A small but telling study has found two common eating habits you may be doing leading to piling on of pounds – eating too fast and eating bigger bites of food. While this finding may seem insignificant and not that surprising, it also has implications for linking the amount of food we eat to how healthy we are and the effect on weight gain. With obesity being one of the biggest health threats worldwide, the more lifestyle factors we can pinpoint as a potential risk factor for becoming overweight to obese helps in the fight against obesity.
The research, conducted at Pennsylvania State University, recruited 44 men and women ranging in age from 18 to 68. The participants met for a weekly lunch over the course of 4 weeks in which each was given various portion sizes of macaroni and cheese, served with water. As the participants ate, they were videotaped to help researchers assess how fast each participant ate and how big of a bite of food they took.
What the study found was that when the participants were given 75% larger portion sizes of macaroni and cheese for lunch, they ate as much as 43% more of the meal than smaller portions sizes provided.
The study also found that the speed of eating didn’t change with bigger portion sizes. Rather, participants who either ate fast or took larger bites with each forkful ate more food overall.
These findings remind us that in our busy world, it’s not unusual for us to eat quickly and in a hurry. However, when we eat fast, it’s much easier to eat a lot more food than our bodies really need. Overtime, excess caloric intake can lead to weight gain. It takes the brain about 20 minutes to realize that you’ve had enough to eat which is why fast eating is associated with overeating.
Eating fast not only increases the risk of becoming overweight or obese but it’s also linked to other health problems, including:
Now, let’s take a look at large portion sizes. Over the past 25 years, restaurant portion sizes in American have grown substantially. Many of us have grown accustomed to these overly large portions sizes that most of us have no idea what a proper amount of food to be eating should look like.
The problem is that eating even just 100 extra calories each day for a year will result in a 10 pound weight gain. Keep in mind too, that the serving size shown on Nutrition Facts labels on food packages is not how much you should be eating but are based on what people actually do eat. In other words, the serving sizes shown are not a “one size fits all” kind of recommendation for everyone.
To help curb eating large portion sizes of food that simply add on more calories than what you need at the end of the day, here are a couple of helpful hints: