overeating

  1. Overeating linked to food smells

    Is your NOSE making you overeat?

    Does anything smell better than December?

    There's the scent of a freshly cut Christmas tree... the burning wood in your fireplace... and all of those delicious foods.

    But it's that last one you have to watch for.

    The smell alone can wreck your diet!

    New research shows how sniffing out your next meal can tempt you into an eating spree that'll add hundreds of calories to your plate.

    Whether it's the scent of cinnamon wafting through the room from a baking pie... or the junk in the food court of the local shopping mall... those smells trigger a process that goes from your nose to your brain to your belly to your mouth and back to your belly again.

    You smell the food, and your brain wants it, so your tummy rumbles. You shovel that food into your mouth... and next thing you know, you can't figure out why your waistline keeps expanding.

    But your nose sure knows!

    In a series of experiments, college students were given meals under two conditions.

    Some just got a meal, with no extra stimulation of any kind. But others were first subject to what you might experience when you go out shopping this time of year: Scents of delicious foods were brought in, and they were shown bright pictures of tempting dishes.

    Care to guess who ate more?

    That's right... the folks in the second group.

    They consumed 220 extra calories during that meal.

    That's more than 10 percent of your calorie intake for an entire day, tacked onto a meal because of a tempting smell.

    Eating like that even sometimes can lead to weight gain. Eating that way regularly can put you on the path toward metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and more.

    Now that you know what's happening inside your body -- from your nose to your brain to your belly -- take steps to protect yourself.

    But you don't have to go into hiding until after Christmas, and you don't have to pinch your nose every time you go out.

    Just be aware of what those smells can do to your eating habits any time of year. And understand that retailers and restaurants know all about this effect and use it to lure you into eating foods you know you should avoid.

    Some sneaky shops even pipe in fake smells to make you hungry.

    Yes, they're trying to manipulate you.

    Don't fall for it. Enjoy the smells, but don't let it change how you eat -- or by the end of December, you could have a little more in common with Santa Claus than you'd like.

  2. How to stop overeating

    Distracted eating leads to overeating

    As anyone who "accidentally" finds the bottom of a pint of ice cream while watching TV can tell you, distracted eating almost always leads to excessive eating.

    You can expect to consume an average of 10 percent more -- and as much as 50 percent more -- if you eat while you're busy doing something else, according to one new study on how to stop overeating.

    And the damage isn't limited to what you eat while parked on the sofa for some prime-time, either -- because once you start, you often don't know how to stop overeating . That's why the review of 24 studies finds that distracted eating can carry and cause you to eat 25 percent more at your next meal.

    There's an obvious way to limit your distracted eating, and that's to not eat at all while at the movies, watching TV, or working on the computer.

    But for many people, that's not entirely realistic, either.

    People like to snack. I get it -- so the real answer for how to stop overeating here is to not be so distracted that you overeat, and one way to do that is to simply think about what you ate earlier.

    In the new study, being reminded of a previous meal actually reduced the amount of "distracted eating" calories by 10 percent.

    Another way to limit those calories is to set your portions in advance and stick to them.

    And of course, what you eat is every bit as important as how much you eat -- so make sure the snacks you choose for TV time are good snacks. Skip the chips and try sliced vegetables instead.

    If you're really distracted, you might not even notice that you're eating healthy foods.

  3. Fake fat, real pounds

    Olestra isn't as widely used as it once was, but it's still a key ingredient in "low-fat" and "light" versions of popular potato chips. And it turns out eating those "light" version could have very heavy consequences.

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