To Overeat or not to Overeat, now that is THE question

I read an article in "The Wall Street Journal" recently (WSJ July 13, 2001) that gave me clues for my own eating "Hot Spots," those times when I tend to go on eating autopilot, switching from being a fairly lean, healthy eater to my late 1960s pattern of consuming anything in sight. As usual, I also looked for source material, and found an article in "Applied Psychology" that was published two years ago and another in the June 21010 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition."

Swiss researchers used the "Power of Food Scale" to measure three groups' vulnerability to so-called hedonic/hedonistic eating. Obese patients tended to react much more to the sight, smell and, in other studies, even the names of "attractive" foods. Several recent studies have shown brain activity in the amygdala, a primitive area of our brains thought to be connected to emotion, to differ in lean vs. obese subject, in response to the smell and taste of milkshakes. Scientists are exploring, via functional MRIs and measurements of hormone levels, how and when we decide to quit eating.

So what does that mean for you and me? Many of us tend to eat on impulse, reacting to sight, smell, sound, and taste of foods we really like. People who are obese seem to have less/little control over this reaction. Successful dieters have the ability to pause, to have second thoughts before launching into an eating frenzy.

When I look back at how I once ate, it's clear to me that I was, at times, a hedonistic eater. Now I'm almost always a homeostatic eater, eating to satisfy hunger, rather than eating impulsively.

Yet there are still times when I can switch patterns. That's when I need to adopt the "one bite only" method, eat prior to parties, try my own method of cutting off a portion of each food item, avoid even the sight of high-calorie foods or just pause for a moment.

We ate a wonderful Australian dinner with our small gourmet group last night. There were lots of unusual food items, some of which were potentially high in calories. I ate very well, but only gained two tenths of a pound. This morning I walked for three and a half hours, doing some hill work in preparation for a mountain hike this coming weekend. Today is a mostly vegetable day. I think I understand the hedonistic eating pattern better and, in doing so, find myself much better able to withstand tempting foods.

Think about your own eating patterns, especially those times when you tend to overeat without thinking. How can you avoid or minimize this happening?. How can you spend as much of your life as possible as homeostatic eater?

One Response to “To Overeat or not to Overeat, now that is THE question”

  1. Shower Caddy says:

    digital kitchen scales are the stuff that i always use on my kitchen when i weight things ',-

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