Tags: Health Topics | deprivation | temptation | habituation

Yes, You Can Still Eat Your Favorite Foods

rice dish a favorite food

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Wednesday, 03 July 2019 06:07 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Research Reveals Strategies to Dine Without Feeling Deprived

Anyone trying to watch their weight or simply eat healthier encounters the disappointment of deprivation. Blacklisting your favorite foods can only lead to resentment and temptation.

A better plan?

Strategic indulgence that allows you to focus on enjoying the foods you love — in moderation.

Research reveals that overeating is not simply due to a proclivity for overindulgence.

There are apparently physiological reasons we do not know when to put down the fork.

Is "Leaving Room" for Dessert a Myth?

Most people can relate to the phenomenon of feeling full after a meal, only to quickly reconsider pushing back from the table once a server wheels over the dessert cart. Researchers recognize this scenario as one of the ways in which people decide to consume well over the amount they need for available energy requirements.

What accounts for our newfound motivation and interest in making a dessert selection once we catch sight of that slice of pie—despite being full? The answer has to do with the fact that it is new.

Leonard H. Epstein et al. (from 2009) studied the impact of habituation on satiation and the amount of food consumed. When having a meal, habituation is related to amount of food consumed as well as the decision about when to stop eating.

In reviewing existing literature, the authors recognized, among other things, the differential impact on habituation of single versus multiple food items, including the introduction of novel foods.

As the authors explain, research indicates that habituation to food is one way we become satiated and decide we are done with a meal, consistent with explanations of being "tired of eating" or noticing that food no longer tastes good. The authors note that when a variety of foods are presented, habituation occurs at a slower rate.

They also note that introducing a novel food item after someone is already full will increase physiological variables linked to eating or motivation to eat. This may explain why the appearance of the dessert cart often leads to overconsumption.

Epstein et al. also note that research corroborates the fact that people who are overweight consume a greater variety of foods than people who are lean.

This suggests that single-food meals are more likely to promote habituation and reduce the total number of calories consumed.

Variety Can Spice Up Life — and Spike Overindulgence

Other research corroborates the finding that consuming a variety of different foods at the same time may contribute to overeating. Cammy Crolic and Chris Janiszewski, in a piece creatively entitled "Hedonic Escalation,” studied the phenomenon of food tasting progressively better, as opposed to triggering satiation.

They describe hedonic escalation as "sthe increased liking of each additional bite of a palatable food." This does not always occur; many diners are more likely to experience satiation (fullness) instead.

So what makes the difference?

Crolic and Janiszewski explain that hedonic escalation is more likely when a food item presents a "complex combination of flavors," and the diner is motivated to experience additional flavors with every consecutive bite.

In their research, they found that fluctuations in hedonic escalation can result from increased sensitization to flavors rather than a change in habituation rate. They also found that hedonic escalation can cause people to eat more, as well as impact food choices.

Before you think this research only sounds like bad news for people who love buffets, consider that a variety of selections allows people to focus on (a few) favorites.

There is, however, another factor that delays our recognition that we are full. Apparently, satiation also depends on distraction.

Avoiding TV Dinners. The Concept of Dining Distraction

Have you ever bought a tub of popcorn at the movies only to realize it is gone without remembering the experience of eating it? You are not alone. And by the way, why was it so easy to polish it off without even thinking about it? Here is the answer, in a word: distraction.

Epstein et al. note that research reveals the impact of environmental distractors on eating related habituation. Accordingly, they note that it might be easier to lose weight by limiting mealtime distractors that disrupt the process of habituation, such as reading or watching television.

So does this mean that in order to watch our waistlines, every meal should be a single-food event consumed in virtual sensory depravity? No, only that in order to feel full quicker, the ideal meal seems to be one that includes a few favorite (hopefully healthy) food selections, enjoyed with attention paid to the dining experience.

Let us remain mindful of these healthy eating tips as we enjoy Independence Day and all of the bounty we are lucky enough to have. But let us indulge responsibly.

This article was first published in Psychology Today.

Wendy L. Patrick is a career prosecutor, named the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year, and recognized by her peers as one of the Top Ten criminal attorneys in San Diego by the San Diego Daily Transcript. She has completed over 150 trials ranging from human trafficking, to domestic violence, to first-degree murder. She is President of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals San Diego Chapter and an ATAP Certified Threat Manager. Dr. Patrick is a frequent media commentator with over 4,000 appearances including CNN, Fox News Channel, Newsmax, and many others. She is author of "Red Flags" (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of the revised version of the New York Times bestseller "Reading People" (Random House). On a personal note, Dr. Patrick holds a purple belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, is a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony, and plays the electric violin with a rock band. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.

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Most people can relate to the phenomenon of feeling full after a meal, only to quickly reconsider pushing back from the table once a server wheels over the dessert cart.
deprivation, temptation, habituation
Wednesday, 03 July 2019 06:07 PM
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