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Eating Habits That Can Make You Gain Weight
Part One

Most people know that eating too much and not exercising enough will make them gain weight. And so they skip meals or repeatedly go on a crash diet not realizing that these very habits can make them become fatter. Other habits are just so ingrained into their daily routine that they are not aware of the connection with the extra pounds that have slowly been accumulating around their waist or hips.

Not eating breakfast
Skipping breakfast may seem like a brilliant and effortless way to cut out calories. The truth is this method sets you up for failure. You are so hungry by lunchtime that you lose control of your appetite and eat more than you realize.

Studies confirm that people who don’t eat breakfast tend to eat more calories later in the day compared to people who do eat breakfast.

Skipping breakfast can also cause a drop in metabolism. Dr. Wayne Callaway, obesity specialist at George Washington University, found that people who skip breakfast have a five-percent lower metabolism than those who don’t. That’s because digesting and absorbing food raises metabolic rate slightly.

You say you aren’t hungry in the morning? That’s probably because you have developed the bad habit of overeating at night and then undereating in the morning. According obesity researcher John Foreyt, lack of food in the morning sets you up to be overly hungry at night, making it likely to repeat the cycle the next day.

Skipping meals
The body perceives a skipped meal as stressful and will actually produce more cortisol, the stress hormone that triggers an increase in appetite. You may be able to keep your appetite under control in the early part of the day because there are so many distractions at home, school, or work. But by nighttime, your hunger pangs have built up to a peak. People who have problems with nighttime cravings and binging are usually people who skip meals.

Midnight snacking
Some people eat their three “squares” a day plus snacks in between and still raid the refrigerator after dinner. This is usually because the habit of late night snacking was developed in childhood or they are using food as a way to cope with stress.

If you snack on low-calorie stuff like raw vegetables, this habit will not make you gain weight but honestly, how many people eat celery sticks late at night? It is usually cookies, chips, chocolates and the like. Considering that one cookie is about fifty calories, a lot of damage can be done in thirty minutes of midnight snacking.

Pigging out on the weekend
A study on weekend weight gain found that people take in 115 more calories per day on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays compared to the other days of the week. The researchers calculated that habitual weekend binging could lead to a weight gain of five pounds a year.

An occasional binge won’t do you much harm if you eat low-calorie meals for the next couple of days and exercise regularly. However, you can get cocky and pig out a little more often than you realize because you think you can get rid of the excess calories before they have a chance to really do you in.

Crash dieting
Rigidly depriving yourself of food sets off a natural biological response – the desire to binge on food. The deprivation-binge cycle is both physiological and psychological. Not only will your body crave for the missing nutrients; your mind will also crave for what’s forbidden. When you give in (experts say you will two out of three times), it is very likely that you will overeat. Eventually, this period of uncontrolled eating leads to guilt feelings, which in turn leads to going on the crash diet again. Some people stay on this vicious cycle of dieting and bingeing for years, says Glenn Cardwell, author of ‘’Diet Addiction’’.

Although current research suggests that crash dieting is not as damaging to the metabolism as once was believed, many people gain weight with each new cycle not so much from a reduced metabolic rate but from binge eating. Psychologists Janet Polivy and Peter Herman of the University of Toronto believe that crash dieting can lead not only to binge eating but other eating disorders as well.

Mindless eating
It’s hard to keep track of how much you are eating when you are doing something else like watching TV or talking on the phone. Plus the kind of food that you can easily eat when you are multi-tasking is usually food you can pick up with your fingers. Unless it’s those celery sticks we mentioned a while ago, most finger foods are high in calories.

Mindless eating also happens when you take all those nibbles and bites while you are cooking and when you automatically finish leftovers on your child’s plate. This can lead to eating amnesia.

This means you cannot accurately remember what and how much you actually ate. But just because you can’t remember those calories doesn’t mean they aren’t real and causing you to gain weight.

Eating too fast
For years, weight loss experts have advised people to eat more slowly if they want to eat less. A recent Japanese study of 1,700 young women confirms that there is truth to that recommendation.. The women who took their time while eating reported feeling fuller sooner, which resulted in their eating less.

Other studies have found that if you eat in a fast-paced environment with loud upbeat music and bright lights, people will eat more quickly and will finish more food. In one study, lively background music made participants take 5 bites per minute and half the group asked for second servings. The people who ate to the accompaniment of calming flute music averaged 3.2 bites per minute, took smaller bites and not even one asked for second helpings. Not only that, most of them left one-fourth of their food on their plates. The take-home message: Take your time when you eat.

Note: The UP-PGH Department of Orthopedics Sports Clinic will hold its 1st Post-Graduate Course “Keen Eye for the Sports Guy” on Saturday, September 25, at the UP College of Medicine, Pedro Gil, Manila. Topics include: Pediatric & Geriatric Athletes, The Female Athlete, Extreme Sports, Athletic Screening, Dermatologic Sports Conditions, and Management of Sports Injuries. Call Flor at 524-2203.

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