“Meals” instead of “snacks”: how to avoid overeating

Last updated on March 12th, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Meals

Constantly accelerating pace of life makes us look for simple and affordable ways to deal with stress, the most popular of which remains food. Stressful overeating is a bigger problem than is commonly believed. Simply because it’s much easier to “eat up” the work stress, than to try and get away from negative thoughts with the help of sports or a good movie. In the long run, such behavior will only lead to extra kilograms and discontent with yourself.

Good news also exist. Concluding from a new study, held by a group of scientists from the University of Surrey:

scientists believe that it is possible to cope with massive overeating, if the manufacturers start telling consumers the truth.Namely – to label and promote chips, crackers, smoked cheese and cookies as a meal, and not as a “snack”. 

During the study, 80 volunteers were offered to eat a plate of pasta, which was called a “snack” or a “meal”, depending on which group the person was in. It is important that “snack” pasta was placed in plastic packaging and came with a plastic fork, while the “meal” should be eaten only from ceramic dishes and a metal fork.

After such dinner, participants were asked to try several additional products, including:

  • cookies,
  • salted ringlets,
  • M&M’s,
  • mini-cheddar.

As a result, scientists found out that those who ate pasta as a “snack”, consumed 50% more (in terms of calories) in the second part of the experiment. Such results eloquently testify that we overeat more often, when food is perceived by us as a snack, and not a full meal. Especially if we eat a dish while standing or, in case of chips, lying down, and not sitting at the table.

Why is this happening? As reported by EurekAlert, the researchers attribute this to the combination of several factors at once.

  • First, when eating snacks, we are more quickly to be distracted by extraneous things, and therefore, perhaps are not fully aware of how much we consume.
  • Secondly, they suspect that information about snacks and meals can be encoded in our subconscious in a different way, so we simply can not remember that we already ate something when the time comes for our next meal.

People become more and more busy, they go to work more often and eat on the go and consume “snacks” to maintain energy,” commented the lead author Jane Ogden. “As it turns out, those who do this on a regular basis, constantly overeat, which is fraught with health issues and excess weight”.

To stop this, we should begin calling “meals” all dishes that get into the stomach, including packed snacks and liquid calories like soda and milkshake.

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