The Sneaky Reason We Overeat (The Psychology Of Eating)

My 9 Year old daughter has fallen in love with Soccer. the sneaky reason we overeat psychology of eating

She just started her Spring league, andI made a mistake at her first practice last night. I got to the field, and brought

the wrong sized soccer ball!

See, at home we have a full size soccer ball that I show off my skills with to prove that Dad used to be an athlete.

(Then she says I’m “Cringe”)

When my ball was next to the age-specific sized ball that all the other girls brought it looked silly.

 It was like a giant beach ball or something… I kept looking at it and thinking how strange it felt that THAT was the

normal size soccer ball. 

…This goes to show the power of relativity in our everyday lives. In relation to the group of smaller size Soccer balls,

mine looked HUGE! 

This brings me to a very important lesson for today’s post. 

Look at the image below, and tell me which ORANGE circle looks bigger? 

The one on the Right? 

The truth is that both of these orange circles are exactly the same size. 

This illusion is called the Ebbinghaus Illusion, and it shows us that our perception is skewed based on our surrounding environment. 

Here’s how this leads to over-eating. 

In America, serving sizes are massive. 

In fact since the 1950s the average serving size for meals has grown over 50%! 

Everywhere we go, we’re seeing BIG serving sizes around us… At restaurants, at convenience stores, in our cafeterias, and even in our own meals at home. 

In America, BIG is normal when it comes to eating. 

The problem is that BIG while eating tends to lead to weight gain. 

When people gain weight, they start to diet. They want to make changes to their health to decrease their waist-line,

but what happens is that when they make a healthy meal following specific serving sizes, they say “That’s it!? There’s no way that’s enough” 

Just like my daughters Soccer ball, when we are so used to seeing BIG things around us it makes the smaller ones

seem comically small. 

Studies show that when Americans estimate their daily calorie intake (based on feel or look) they eat, on average,

1,000 MORE than they thought they were! 

So, when you think you’re following a 1500 calorie diet, the odds are that you are eating closer to 2500 calories per day. 

The solution to this problem?

For 1 week I want you to weigh, measure and track everything you eat using the app My Fitness Pal. 

Yes- It’s a lot of work. 

No, this is not usually a sustainable approach to dieting and I am ALL About sustainability. 

Tracking your calories is all about 1 thing: Awareness. And Awareness is the first step to change. 

There are 3 reasons why this experiment of committing to tracking for 1 week works: 

  1. Serving Sizes:

We are HORRIBLE at estimating serving sizes and calories when we eye-ball it. In order to get a TRUE gauge on

serving sizes, you have to weight, measure and track everything you eat. When clients do this, 9/10 of them report

back at how surprising the numbers were and how much BIGGER their servings were than they should be. 

  2. Repetition:

We tend to eat the same foods ALL OF THE TIME. When I meet with clients and ask them what they eat in a day it

usually sounds like this “For breakfast I eat X,Y or Z. Lunch is always X or Y, Dinner is either X, Y, Z… Sometimes

Pizza and Beer” 

There’s not usually a HUGE variety of foods in our everyday diet, and what that means is that when you track your

calories and serving sizes of ONE week you can usually cover everything that you eat… Then you will leave that

experiment with a new guage of serving sizes and what they consist of!

  3. Mindless Eating:

When you are relentless about tracking your calories for 1 week, you’ll be shocked at the “Mindless Eating” that

takes place. You’ll see the handfuls of M+Ms you grab at the office, or the fries you steal off of your childs’ plate…

All of this usually leads to a couple hundred calories throughout the day which might be enough to stall your

progress toward your goals. 

At the end of this week of eating, you’ll have shined a light on serving sizes, hidden calories and your mindless

eating habits… You’ll also realize how skewed our perception of serving sizes is because of the world around us! 

I don’t recommend calorie tracking as a long term solution. I don’t believe that’s a way to life life, but once you

get a new frame of reference for those serving sizes, you’ll have a better idea going forward so when you stop

tracking, you’ll be eating in line with your goals!

This exercise in awareness is the first step in our weight loss program in West Chester, PA. Are you looking for a

workout and nutrition program in West Chester?