Who is looking forward to the rapidly approaching holidays?
With the holidays coming up we get time to spend with loved ones and show them how much we care.
Often this is done through food.
We bake cookies, bars, and tarts to share with friends, family, and co-workers. We have people over for huge, unbutton-your-pants-and-lie-down-on-the-floor feasts. We overindulge on piggies in a blanket and eggnog at holiday parties. We give chocolates as gifts. And if you’re like me, you wake up just a little bit earlier every day in December because you know there’s a piece of chocolate waiting for you behind a cardboard door.
Because of all of this it is very difficult to lose weight or even maintain weight during the holidays. In fact, Americans typically gain about one pound during the winter holiday season that they are not able to lose.
So I want to give you one easy tip to help you maintain your weight during the holiday season.
Picture this: You grab a big scoop of stuffing, bite into it, and start dancing in your chair as the flavors dance around in your mouth. As you continue to eat and start to feel full, the stuffing seems less and less tasty. But you still have space for the turkey and sweet potatoes and green beans you had been ignoring on your plate. And you still have space for some mashed potatoes when they come out of the oven. And your first bite of each is delicious!
Has this ever happened to you? This is called sensory-specific satiety.
As a food is consumed, it becomes perceived as less pleasant compared to other foods.
One study tested whether the change in ratings of pleasantness after eating a food is related to either the amount of food or to its calorie content.
On each of 3 days, 36 women consumed one of four variations of a food that differed in volume and calorie content, but were matched for palatability and nutrient composition. The women rated the pleasantness of the food immediately before and after eating it.
The researchers found that doubling the volume of the food while keeping calories constant significantly decreased pleasantness of the food and increased sensory-specific satiety.
Doubling the calorie content of the food without changing its volume did not affect perceived pleasantness or sensory-specific satiety.
These results suggest that the amount of food that is consumed has a greater influence on perceived pleasantness of a food than calorie content does.
In other words, eating a small bite of a high-calorie food will not make us feel any more full than the same size bite of a low-calorie food.
What you need to know
The first few bites of food taste the best (no matter how high in calories it is) so enjoy a few bites from each of your favorite holiday dishes and allow yourself to savor the season.
After the first few bites, the pleasure we get from the food decreases so take only a small serving and take the time to enjoy every bite… leftovers will be there tomorrow when your taste buds are fresh to enjoy the food all over again.