Ever get a bellyache from eating too much food? It’s not that hard to imagine. The food of your dreams is right in front of you and you just can’t get enough of it. So, you eat it until either it is gone or you just can’t swallow another bite.
This scenario is not difficult to imagine during the holidays: cookies, cakes, pies, candy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, chips without dip, chips with dip, buffets, mom’s cooking, a bag of restricted treats that has been calling your name ever since you hid it behind something healthier; the temptation is real.
Scientific research has proven that the level of taste satisfaction diminishes after the third bite of anything. Bite number one wakes up your taste buds, leaving you to crave more. The number two bite is the one that packs the most satisfying flavor. As your fork dives into bite number three, your taste buds are already starting to shut down. For bite number four, all the way to bite number 99, it is little more than an oral exercise of the mouth and jaw muscles.
Try this experiment yourself. Pay attention to bite number four and thereafter. Are these bites as flavorful as bites one to three? Results may vary with the food content and the individual, but in general, more bites often lead to another bite searching for that same flavorful sensation acquired with bites two and three.
To avoid a food overload, remind yourself that the Three Bite Rule gives maximum flavor for the least number of calories. My sweetheart, who likes to treat me to ice cream, says that his relationship with ice cream is an exception to this rule. Who am I to argue when he is buying?
Another tip to avoid a food bellyache is to HALT. This acronym represents the first letters in the words: Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. Make no decisions when any of these conditions occur.
Meal planning is important when controlling calories. Eating every three to five hours avoids hunger pangs. Making food decisions when hungry often leads to poor choices.
Anger causes people to be irrational. Illogical food decisions result in unreasonable choices, especially when it comes to amounts. Stay away from the refrigerator when angry. If you don’t open the door, you can’t be tempted.
Loneliness and boredom pack on more calories than people realize. Food to mouth movements become a subconscious activity when watching television or doing computer work. The need to load up an empty spot in your life cannot be filled with food. Realizing this fact is the first step to controlling lonely calories.
When the body is tired, it uses most of its energy and spirit to just function until it can relax or sleep. Eating when tired is not a replacement for rest. Overloading calories when tired isn’t going to purchase more alertness, in fact, it will slow the metabolism down with the process of digestion.
The takeaway message to control calories over the holidays is the Three Bite Rule and HALT. Enjoy the hope, peace, joy, and love of the season.
Bobbie Randall is a registered, licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator in Wooster, Ohio. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.