Prevent Holiday Weight Gain & Avoid Mindless Eating

international food council had an opportunity to take part in a webcast organized by the International Food Information Council Foundation and hosted Brian Wansink Ph.D, Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and bestselling author of the eye-opening book, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We Think.

In 2024, the International Food Information Council Foundation conducted the fourth annual, Food & Health Survey, a analysis of Americans’ attitudes towards food, nutrition and health. Before Dr. Wansink presented us his sage advice for how to navigate our way through the food-filled holidays, he discussed a few of his key findings from the 2024 survey. Below are the most salient highlights:

  • Twenty-five percent of Americans said that they are active for at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.
  • The top motivators for being active are to lose weight followed by to improve appearance.
  • Forty percent of Americans do not use any resources to improve their diet – no pills, no special diet books, no hypnosis.
  • At any given time, 53 percent of Americans are trying to lose weight.
  • For those looking to lose weight, 71 percent are trying to change the amount of food they eat, 65 percent are trying to change what kinds of food they eat and less than 20 percent are counting calories.
  • The biggest barrier to staying on track with weight loss goals is not seeing results quick enough (44 percent) followed by lack of will power (43 percent).

So before you sit down to your holiday meal, Dr. Wansink recommends to be aware of the following open invitations for overeating.

  • Large portion sizes can cause us to eat more, even if we don’t really like the taste of the food being offered. His studies have shown that the larger the portion size, the more we eat. Therefore, prevent mindless overeating by using measuring devices to control how much you eat, ask yourself if you’re truly hungry for the food in front of you or whether you’re just eating because it’s there and use smaller plates and serving dishes.
  • Keep tabs of just how hungry you are. Most of us think we are full when our plate is clean. But being a member of the clean plate club is not doing any favors for our expanding waistlines. Instead, pause every few minutes in between forkfuls of stuffing and sweet potatoes to determine just how satiated you are. Stop when you feel content or about 80 percent full.
  • Don’t fall for diet-sabotaging mental rationalizations. From “I made it, I deserve it,” to “pre-loading” on appetizers, nuts, or turkey samples and to the “happy host,” who eats to please, mentally prepare yourself by thinking about what you are going to eat and how much you are going to eat beforehand so that you’ll feel satisfied over what you ate and proud over your self-control once all the dishes have been served, cleaned and put away.

Happy Holidays!

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