You don’t have to have a classified eating disorder to fall prey to poor eating habits. When it comes to Australia, there’s good news and bad news about how we eat. The Good: About 75% of us eat veggies on a daily basis. The Bad: 35% of our average energy intake comes from junk food – a.k.a. ‘discretionary food’. Even more worrying is that kids aged 14-18 years are getting 41% of their total energy from this food group.
One of the biggest concerns, though, has focused on overeating. In an Australian Health Survey, a wide-ranged sample of people aged 2 years and older consumed on average 3.1kg of food and beverages (including water) over the 24hrs of the survey, which seems like a lot.
Overeating can be a problem, and not just because of weight-gain. Certain essential nutrients can cause disease if you accumulate too much of them. Scientists have shown that eating enough, but not too much, is one key to a longer life.
So what’s the take-home here? Well, aside from the results, it’s important for people to start turning their attention to proactive measures to help reduce the likelihood of overeating. And we’ve all likely overeaten at some point in time due to any number of causes: boredom, stress, social reasons and even inattention.
In fact, it’s a whole lot easier to overeat when you aren’t paying attention. A case study was profiled where wearing headphones was associated with eating more, and foods that make a loud noise when eaten were associated with less eating.
In Japanese culture, there’s a common phrase “hara hachi bu”, meaning to eat until you are 80 percent full. The Okinawan people often live to 100, making them the longest lived, healthiest people on the planet, so it’s no coincidence that they practice hara hachi bu. Of course it helps to eat healthy food as well, but the ‘80% full’ rule is a nice simple tactic to apply when combating unhealthy overeating.
If you’re the type of person who eats in front of the TV or has lunch at your desk at work, you can make a positive change by taking a break and focusing on your meal. This type of mindfulness practice helps you recognise when you’ve eaten enough and might have other unexpected benefits if you try it.
Similarly, eating the right foods is another big part of the equation. For instance, tapping into the idea of ‘crunchy foods help you eat less’ doesn’t really make sense if the crunchy food you pick is a potato chip. Sure, it’s crunchy, but its innate unhealthiness negates the research results. Aside from that, potato chips just aren’t filling. They pack a lot of energy, but do not give you the feeling of fullness which mostly depends on stomach distension being communicated to the brain. And as we discussed last year, many salty junk foods are engineered to be addictive.
HSG offers healthy eating programs including Nutrition Seminars to help motivate your staff to optimal wellbeing and Live Cooking Demos aimed at teaching your staff how they can quickly and easily prepare their own great-tasting healthy meals. Learn more about our services at the links below, or call us on 1300 889 073 to learn about healthy eating programs.