Summertime fun without overeating

By Alice Inoue Posted in: Go Ask AliceImprove

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QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Summer is here and that means more eating, family gatherings, etc. — which I am OK with. It’s afterward that I am worried about. Is there anything I can do around the home to curb overeating?

We always seem to eat more over the summer and holidays, prompting us to look at healthier eating options afterward to get us back on track. But perhaps, with some insight, we can rein in our eating habits a bit.

Rather than approaching this from a feng shui perspective, I’ve gathered information from various environmental psychological studies, because most of the information in feng shui is geared toward enhancing appetite, not suppressing it.

Environmental influences on food consumption

Numerous environmental factors explain why many of us experience a change in our eating behaviors when there are more gatherings. Use the following to guide your eating behavior during parties or events.

1. How many people are in the room?

In general, studies show that the more people in a room during a meal, the more each person will eat, because the influence of social norms is more prominent.

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2. How relaxed is the atmosphere?

We tend to eat more when we are with others whom we know well. On the flip side, studies show that when tension is present during a meal, we eat less — not the best solution for overeating, though.

3. How much food is visible?

The more food you can see in the room, the more you will eat. A table laden with scrumptious dishes and their distinctive smells will cause us to consume greater amounts.

4. How accessible is the food?

The more accessible the food, the faster and the more we eat. Studies showed that by moving candy bowls just 6 feet away in the same room, intake was reduced by half, because we have to pause and consider whether or not we really want more.

5. How much variety of food is there?

We eat more when a greater diversity, or variety, of food is visible. If you imagine a table filled with plates of food, but the only food served is fried rice, you’d likely not eat as much. Where a lot of variety is the norm, we tend to pile more on our plates, eating a lot more.

6. How many serving bowls are out and what size are they?

The bigger the serving bowls, the more we eat. An experiment showed that people who served themselves from larger bowls (4 quart) took 53 percent more and ate 59 percent more than people serving themselves from medium-sized (2 quart) bowls. (Wasnsink & Cheney, 2005).

7. How big is the portion?

Many exper iments showed that we eat in proportion to the amount served. In other words, we will eat the whole portion regardless of how big it is or how hungry we are.

Make wise choices

Use this information as power and with awareness, you may be able to minimize the food intake, yet still have a great time enjoying the company you are with.

Do you have a question for Alice? If so, send it to alice@yourhappinessu.com. Alice Inoue is the founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happiness U, where you’ll find inspiring classes geared toward personal growth and self-development. YourHappinessU.com.