When Do You Stop Eating?
I recently read an excellent book called Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink, Ph.D. and one of the studies referenced in the book stood out to me, for reasons other than what the study was highlighting.
Wansink and his team wanted to test a theory proposed by Miereille Guiliano; She said that French women do not get fat because they know when to stop eating.
In order to test this, they surveyed 282 Parisians and Chicagoans, with a questionnaire asking about how they decided to when to stop eating. The Parisians consistently said that they stopped eating when they were no longer hungry.
Not so for the Chicago group- they stopped eating when they ran out of food, or when a television show ended, or when their plate was cleared off. The heavier a person of either culture was, the more they depended on external cues.
It’s clear that those who depend on external sources to tell them when to stop eating are not listening to their bodies, thus likely overeating. What struck me was this line “Parisians reported that they usually stopped eating when they no longer felt hungry.“
I thought about what people around me say during a meal, or what my weight loss oriented clients say about food. They talk about feeling full- they are accustomed to eating until they are full. They want to feel full.
If you sit around a table with your family, and someone eats to the point of feeling sluggish, stomach knots, as if they cannot eat another bite, they are full. That person passed the “no longer hungry” mark a long time ago.
There’s a massive difference between no longer feeling hungry, and feeling full. From what I’ve seen, many people eat to feel full, meaning they will continue to eat well past the point of no longer feeling hungry, and studies consistently reveal this about North Americans.
Many cultures have rules of thumbs about eating- Many of us have heard the statement “Eat until you’re 80% full.” from Japan, and other countries have similar sayings. Our saying? If a child says they are no longer hungry, many North Americas counter with “eat!”
What’s the difference? I thought about my own meals, and realized that the difference between no longer feeling hungry and feeling full can be well over 1,000 calories. For health, weight maintenance, and general well being, this is not good.
Next time you’re eating, pay attention to when you are no longer hungry, and what that feels like.
Something to think about,