Secret To Avoiding Thanksgiving Overeating: Chew More, Eat Less
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According to the Calorie Control Council, an international body representing the low and reduced calorie food and drink industry, the average American could consume as much as 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving.
The main holiday meal including turkey and all the trimmings and must-have sides, a slice or two of pie, as well as a hefty dose of booze can load you down with 3000 calories. The remaining 1,500 calories come courtesy of hours of pre-dinner grazing on chips, breads and dips and other insalubrious appetizers and nibbles.
Note this whopping calorie count doesn’t include breakfast or that night-time leftover turkey sandwich supper.
Short of being the holiday Grinch and smugly refusing to indulge in the communal feasting that is inextricably linked with Thanksgiving, is there anything that can be done to stave off the seemingly inevitable pile-up of festive pounds?
Indeed there is. A new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that over the course of a meal, people who chewed a mouthful of food for longer before swallowing ate less overall during that meal.
At the outset of the study, participants were given five Totino’s pizza rolls to eat and asked to note the number of times they chewed each portion. In the second part of the study, 47 participants, a mix of normal weight, overweight and obese volunteers, attended three weekly lunches.
During each one they were given 60 pizza rolls and told to consume as many as necessary until they felt full. At one session they were asked to chew the same number of times as they had in the initial test session, in another they were told to chew 50 percent more and at another session they were told to chew twice as many times more.
As a point of interest, the researchers found that the normal-weighted people tended to chew more slowing in general than those participants who were overweight or obese.
The study results revealed that when the participants increased their chewing by 50 percent they consumed 10 percent less food which translated to 70 calories. Doubling the rate of chewing produced even more significant results; participants consumed 15 percent less food and 112 fewer calories.
So precisely how does chewing make you eat less then? It’s likely that it’s not the mastication itself that makes the difference, but rather the fact that chewing for longer entails that the meal lasts longer. Research has shown that it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to recognize feelings of satiety. It does this by receiving signals from digestive hormones secreted by the gastrointestinal tract. By wolfing down your food, you’re not giving your body the time it needs to send the appropriate messages signaling fullness. The end result is quite simply that you end up eating too much.
According to the Harvard Health Blog:
Stretch receptors in the stomach are activated as it fills with food or water; these signal the brain directly through the vagus nerve that connects gut and brainstem. Hormonal signals are released as partially digested food enters the small intestine. One example is cholecystokinin (CCK), released by the intestines in response to food consumed during a meal. Another hormone, leptin, produced by fat cells, is an adiposity signal that communicates with the brain about long-range needs and satiety, based on the body’s energy stores. Research suggests that leptin amplifies the CCK signals, to enhance the feeling of fullness. Other research suggests that leptin also interacts with the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain to produce a feeling of pleasure after eating. The theory is that, by eating too quickly, people may not give this intricate hormonal cross-talk system enough time to work.
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