Have you ever eaten the last, stale piece of chocolate cake in the tin even though it was dry – and wondered why?
It can be hard to understand our urges to eat, especially when we’re not hungry and the food doesn’t look great. But sadly it’s this behaviour which can help pile on the pounds.
The reason we eat things such as stale cake or soggy chips is because we let our expectations override our tastebuds, says food scientist Dr Brian Wansink, author of new book called Mindless Eating (published by Hay House, priced £7.99.)
He says the key to tackling overeating is to understand how your mind works. There are ways to avoid or ignore the signals which push you to overeat.
Comfort foods such as chocolates and cakes tend to be eaten not just because they’re sweet, but because they have good associations.
For this reason, people can create their own positive associations with healthier foods. So if you always eat strawberries when you’re celebrating, you’ll ‘comfort eat’ strawberries.
People who want to address their eating habits should change three small things about the way they eat, based on what trips them up the most.
Dr Warsink has these tips for people who want to make some changes to the way they eat.
* Take serving dishes off the table if you tend to overeat at mealtimes.
* Have your own food policies if you snack at work. This could include always eating fruit as your first snack or going for a walk at break time if you eat a sugary treat.
* Use the slowest eater at your table as a pacemaker. Try being the last to start eating and setting your fork down after every bite.