You wouldn’t think, would you, that you could forget all the yummy (and not so yummy) food you eat every day. And yet, according to experts, that is actually what happens on a daily basis. The term ‘eating amnesia’ includes all those few nibbles of a few chips from a friend’s pack, a hasty bite of your partner’s burger or finishing a child’s leftover tiffin – all of which can add up to unaccounted calories.
Consider this: A few French fries can add up to 80-100 calories, half a samosa 125 calories and a piece of peanut chikki some 50-odd calories – and you simply forget about it later. The tricky part, say experts, is that eating amnesia is neither deliberate nor conscious, which is why it is more frustrating.Eating while distracted?
Do this exercise – ask yourself how many food-related decisions you think you make every day. When Cornell University researchers asked 139 participants this question, the average answer was 14 decisions. But after a detailed breaking down of their day, it transpired that the participants made an average of 226 food decisions a day, 59 of which related to what kind of food to eat.
There is another grey zone – ‘eating while distracted’. This also contributes to eating amnesia. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers observed women who normally watch their portions, eat their lunch in different situations. They found that women ate 15 per cent more (72 additional calories) when they ate while listening to a detective story as compared with when they ate alone and free of distractions. Multitasking is a common reason for snatched bites, so there’s a compelling reason to move your TV out of the dining room.
What to do?
Stay in focus: Look carefully at what you are eating. The simple act of concentrating on your food can save you a huge amount of unneeded calories.
Sit and serve: Serve yourself and sit down to eat – never just pick up a handful and eat moving about. This way you’ll be able to account for everything that goes inside you.
Keep a record: Maintain a food logbook and carefully record every little bite you take.
Avoid temptation: Keep sinful goodies out of reach; say, in the highest kitchen cabinet. And never ever keep treats in transparent jars. Another way of staying away from fattening foods is to not buy any of them.
Watch what you eat: Watch what you put in your mouth – nibbling adds calories. If you must nibble, ensure you stick to healthy foods as far as possible.
(The author is a Delhi-based nutritionist and writer)
From HT Brunch, October 16
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