5 Surprising Reasons You’re Bingeing

FOOD  |  June 16, 2016
  • 1. CONVENIENCE AND PROXIMITY
    1 / 5 1. CONVENIENCE AND PROXIMITY

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    It’s awesome that your office offers free food and drinks in the pantry, but if you’re constantly reaching for chips instead of apples, there might be a good reason why. Well-known for their fun offices, Google execs asked consumer behaviour expert Ernest Baskin how companies can promote healthy choices while providing indulgent treats. The professor, who teaches at Saint Joseph’s University in the US, teamed up with Yale researchers to find out.

    Turns out, the likelihood of staff reaching for a snack increased by more than half if the free beverage station they were visiting was near the tidbit supply – thankfully, women tended to show a bit more restraint. Based on their observations, the researchers recommended measures such as moving healthier snacks closer to the drinks, or making unhealthy snacks more tedious to reach – for example, putting them in a pantry cupboard or a free vending machine. “It was a bit surprising that an extra few feet of distance between snacks and beverages yielded such a significant change in snacking frequency,” shared Ernest.

    (Also Read: A Calorie Guide to Your Favourite Snacks)

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  • 2. YOU'RE PICKING A SIMILAR BUT LESS APPEALING SUBSTITUTE FOR YOUR FAVOURITE SNACK
    2 / 5 2. YOU'RE PICKING A SIMILAR BUT LESS APPEALING SUBSTITUTE FOR YOUR FAVOURITE SNACK

    Image: StockSnap / Pixabay

    If you’ve been craving a chocolate bar, but told yourself you couldn’t have any, choosing chocolate-covered peanuts over that granola bar in your bag might not be a good idea. A series of studies in Psychological Science revealed that picking a similar substitute left people feeling less satisfied, while choosing a completely different snack may make them as happy as having the original item. Knowing this, you should now have a better strategy for tackling those pesky cravings!

    (Also read: 10 Healthy Snacks We Honestly Love)

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  • 3. YOU'RE SLEEPY
    3 / 5 3. YOU'RE SLEEPY

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    Rethink those nights of binge-watching dramas, because it’s seriously hurting your waistline. Over the years, many studies have linked the lack of sleep to increased eating, with participants taking in an additional 300 calories a day, the equivalent of one cheese burger. Some studies have even pegged the number as high as 550 calories.

    The reason? Lack of sleep messes with your hormones. In particular, levels of ghrelin (which boosts appetite) goes up, while leptin (which makes you feel full) goes down. Furthermore, sleep deprivation boosts your body’s production of endocannabinoid – the active ingredient in marijuana – which increases the happiness you get from eating and makes you crave more. Grab your eight hours of ZZZs if you don’t want to trigger the next pig out session.

    (Also read: 5 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Calories)

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  • 4. BOREDOM MAKES YOU CRAVE FATTY AND SUGARY FOODS
    4 / 5 4. BOREDOM MAKES YOU CRAVE FATTY AND SUGARY FOODS

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    Doing boring tasks over and over or watching dull videos could be making you reach for junk food. A study presented at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society showed that people who did this tended to prefer crisps, sweets and fast food over healthier bites. According to Dr Sandi Mann, who worked on the study, “These results are in line with previous research suggesting that we crave fatty and sugary foods when we are bored. This strengthens the theory that boredom is related to low levels of the stimulating brain chemical dopamine and that people try to boost this by eating fat and sugar if they cannot alleviate their boredom in some other way.

    “People designing health education campaigns to encourage us to make healthier food choices need to take boredom, including boredom in the workplace, into account. Bored people do not eat nuts.”

    (Also read: Why Sugar is Bad News for Weight Watchers)

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  • 5. ILLUSTRATION OF SERVING SIZES ON PACKAGING
    5 / 5 5. ILLUSTRATION OF SERVING SIZES ON PACKAGING

    Image: Couleur / Pixabay

    You know those bowls of overflowing cereal on your breakfast box? Yeah, your morning meal should not look like that. Unfortunately, packaging illustrations can throw us off when estimating portion size, leading us to chow down on more than is recommended. Worse still, when the image has other foods in the background, we tend to overeat even more.

    Research published in Public Health Nutrition found that images of frosted cake on cake mix boxes had nearly 135 per cent more calories than the recommended serving size on the nutrition label. This led study participants to over-serve portions of cake by as much as 122 calories. However, when the phrase “frosting not included on the nutritional labelling” was tagged on the box, serving sizes were more conservative.

    While the study’s authors don’t believe companies are out to intentionally deceive us, adding such disclaimers, or getting customers to be more mindful, could help us stick to the appropriate serving sizes much better.

    (Also Read: How Skinny Girls Eat and Stay Slim)

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