It has been a LONG winter and now the sun is shining and you want to enjoy the outdoors. You pull out your favourite pair of shorts and pull them on. What the heck!!!!!! WHO SHRUNK MY SHORTS? Don’t worry, you are not alone! You may ask yourself whether your partner washed them in hot water or you may wonder if these shorts belong to your skinny sister. But deep down inside, you know that it is not the shorts that shrunk, but you who has grown bigger.
Now, if the answer to how you gained the weight isn’t immediately apparent, it could be due to something called the “mindless margin”. There are many cues in our environment that lead us to overeat and for most of us they impact our eating without us even knowing about it. And it doesn’t take much extra eating to pile on the pounds. Did you know that eating just 3 jelly beans a day for a year is enough extra calories to result in a 1 pound weight gain? That “mindless margin” is only 10 extra calories a day. If you eat way too much, you know it, and if you eat too little, you can tell. However, eating even 100 extra calories more or less in a day is not noticeable and is significant when it comes to your weight. But 100 calories a day equals 10 pounds in a year!!!!
So every time that you eat every last bite of your dinner, even though you were already full half way through; eating half of that cookie still sitting on the pan as you walk by the kitchen; eating the few bites that your child leaves on their plate – This is the “mindless margin”. In all of the above instances, it’s not that you were consuming the extra calories because you needed them – you weren’t even hungry! And if you had resisted them, you would never have missed them. In each case, you may have just ‘slightly overeaten’, but the price you end up paying for this is high.
So what is the solution? Being more mindful about our eating is one answer, and you can check out our previously posted blog (Who Stole My Chips?) for tips about how to do this. But a safer response may be to change your everyday eating environment to protect you from the “mindless margin”. Use a smaller plate or glass, sit further away from the buffet table, move the candy dish off your desk at work. All of these have been proven – scientifically – to result in less eating.
You can learn how to do this and a whole lot more by registering for our eating control course titled ACT for ME starting in September 2017.
Source – Brian Wansink. (2006). Mindless Eating.