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Mindless Eating: Increased Food Variety Causes Overeating

Mindless Eating: Increased Food Variety Triggers Overeating

Mindless eating: we all do it to some degree, each and every day. Even the most subtle things can prompt us to keep eating, without even noticing it. Would you believe that if you were to sit down to a bag a Skittles with a variety of colors, you would most likely eat more than if you sat down to a bag of just red or just orange Skittles – subtle right? But it’s little things like this that food manufactures are well aware of to help “encourage” us to keep eating, sometimes eating hundreds more calories on a daily basis than we actually need.

If weight loss is a priority for you, and especially if it’s been a challenge for you, you might want to consider exploring mindless eating habits and subconscious triggers that prompt you to eat more than you realize.

One of the more common mindless eating triggers: food variety. The more variety that you see when you sit down to a meal, the more likely you are to overeat. Most people can intuitively sense the truth behind this statement. But sometimes it’s trickier to catch then other times – like with increased color variety.

A more obvious correlation would be buffets: loads of options and unlimited portions – the perfect recipe for a mindless overeating episode.

When was the last time you went to a buffet and didn’t leave feeling stuffed like a sausage roll? Buffets have that affect on people. But it’s not just buffets. Even the typical family dinner or social gathering provide so many options – too many options – for the average person to be able to eat “moderately” without overeating and without engaging in mindless eating.

Part of the reason for this is because you simply want to try and “sample” everything you eat. Other’s want to “get their monies worth”. Sure, these reasons are understandable, but there’s more to it than that – it’s called sensory specific satiety. Once you start sampling foods, it’s harder to stop. According to one study, variety in diet can be a factor in obesity. This is because trying many different dishes with different ingredients in one sitting excites and over-stimulates the taste buds.  When you eat just one food (like our ancestors did) the food becomes less palatable and you naturally and instinctively stop eating it as you become full. Eating many foods in one sitting overrides this natural process called sensory specific satiety and can cause overeating in many people.

No matter how good a food initially tastes, that taste tends to fade. Think about it, does the last bite usually taste as good as the first, especially when you’re overeating? Not usually. But as soon as you start to eat a bunch of different foods all at the same time, this feeling of satiety – of feeling a sense of satisfaction from fullness – gets buried under all the taste-specific excitement happening in the brain.

To make matters worse and mindless eating (and mindless overeating) even more likely, is that these foods tend to be “hyperpalatable” which means they are abnormally high in sugar + fat + salt and cause a hyper-pleasurable response in the brain, which also triggers you to keep eating – no matter how full you are. This is how food addiction is developed. Ever been to an all-you-can eat buffet and became so full, yet couldn’t stop eating? You’re body is trying to communicate that “full” message to you but becomes muffled in the unnatural food environment that we’ve created for ourselves. We’re still biologically designed to match our food environment from hundreds of thousands of years ago, and back then, food wasn’t as prevalent as it is now – our ancestors never sat down to eat buffet dinners, and neither should we.

One way you can mindlessly eat less is to tune into your natural instincts and cultivate clear communication from your body. You can do this by eating like your ancestors did. Try eating only very few foods, perhaps only one food, at a time. Try making smoothies with only simple combinations and have that as a meal, or try simple salad combos for lunch or dinner. It’s actually easier than you think to minimize variety at meal time and also mindless minimize mindless eating!

It’s great to get variety in your diet, but it doesn’t have to be all at one meal. Variety naturally comes with the seasons. When it comes to variety at meal-time, less is more. Try to eat fewer ingredients in one sitting. You might even want to give mono-meals a try, where you eat one food at a time when you feel hungry, until you feel full. I never thought I would be into mono-meals but now I love eating this way. Explore and experiment with what works best for you, fostering mindful eating to help encourage a healthier relationship with food.

Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii

Laura Dawn, Author of “Unhooked: A Holistic Approach to Ending Your Struggle with Food” and “Mindful Eating for Dummies


Dragon Fruit

Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit has got to be one of the most spectacular and exotic looking fruits on the face of this planet – actually, it looks like it could be from another planet!

Want to immerse yourself for a whole week in exploring, tasting and eating exotic fruits like this? Check out our group or private raw food retreats here in Hawaii.

This far out fruit comes from a veining cactus growing around the tropic and subtropics. It’s native to Mexico and grows in South America but is largely grown in Asia where it is known as pitaya or pitahaya. You can find this unique dragon fruit in local grocery stores throughout North America, as their thick skin makes for easy shipping.

Dragon fruit comes in three main variety of colors; bright pinkish-red that when you cut open you’re either mesmerized by a deep fuchsia, a pure milky white translucent flesh. There’s also a yellow variety with the same whitish color inside (like shown above). It’s leathery skin is covered with beautiful green ribbon-like protuberances. All varieties come packed with a multitudes of edible, crunchy black seeds which lends this fruit it’s higher-than-average fat content. [Read more...]

Raw Collard Wraps: Triple Sprout with Beet Avocado Dip

Raw Collard Wrap with Beet Avocado Dip

There are an infinite number of ways you can make raw collard wraps. Raw green collards make an awesome wrap – they’re a natural, gluten-free, organic and nutrient dense alternative to most wheat based tortilla wraps.

Today I made a summer fresh “Triple Sprout Raw Collard Wraps with Beet Avocado Dip” and it was delicious!

Raw Food Kitchen Essentials

For this raw food recipe, you’ll need a high-powered blender. I personally use and recommend the Vitamix Blender. I wrote a review where I compared it to Blentec that you can read here. A high-powered blender is one of the top 4 raw food kitchen tools I recommend stocking your raw food kitchen with.

Raw Ingredients

Let’s start with the Beet Avocado Dip and then we’ll look at assembling the raw collard wraps.

Beat Avocado Dip Recipe

[Read more...]

Food Addiction: Can We Really Be Addicted to Food?


Is food addiction real, how could we possibly be addicted to a basic survival necessity like food?

I see clients on a daily basis who tell me they’re hooked. Hooked? On what—cocaine, methamphetamines, alcohol . . . heroin?  No, these clients profess that their lives are being taken over by their readily available, legal drug of choice: bagels, donuts, cheese, chips, ice cream, pizza, soda, and the list goes on. In other words: refined sugar, fat, salt, and processed foods. They’re hooked; they can’t stop thinking about food until they get their “fix,” and this addiction is wreaking havoc on their lives.

I recently heard my husband fondly reflect back on his love affair with Crispy Cream Doughnuts, referring to them as crack. I know exactly what he means, not for Doughnuts – that wasn’t my crack, but for other highly addictive foods, like cookies and pizza. I find this concept of food addiction to be so interesting, and personal – I consider myself to be a recovered food addict after I saw my life hit rock bottom as I watched myself become totally hooked on these foods and struggled to unhook myself and “get clean.”  The more I learned about the research emerging on food addiction, the more I understood what I went through – and what millions of other people endure each and every day. I even wrote a book about it called “Unhooked: A Holistic Approach to Ending Your Struggle with Food” (In bookstores this fall).

Is Food Addiction Real?

This is the question that many researchers are asking themselves: can we really be addicted to a basic survival necessity like food? Think about it, but before you answer, I have to warn you: its a tricky question. One thing we need to consider is why this a fairly new phenomenon affecting millions of people? We need to ask ourselves what’s changed here? Have we changed? No – we haven’t changed. But our food supply has changed – in a big way. Our food has changed so drastically, to the point where we’re now seeing an obesity epidemic and deaths from preventable disease unlike ever before. 

Naturally this has led researchers to try to figure out why many people are struggling with compulsive overeating and are discovering that food addiction and drug addiction are actually very similar. [Read more...]

Fresh Aloe Salad With Mint

Fresh Aloe Salad with Mint

Aloe vera is incredible. Since I posted the Top 12 Benefits of Aloe Vera, I get countless emails asking me how I like to eat aloe. I like to add aloe to my smoothies and use it in my Raw Clear Skin Juice. But recently, I’ve been playing with aloe in other recipes like this aloe salad that my husband and I made with mint and tomatoes.
[Read more...]

What is Mindful Eating?

What is Mindful Eating?At first glance, mindful eating may sound simple – maybe even boring. Maybe you’re even thinking: “What the heck is mindful eating anyways?

And at its most basic level, mindful eating is simple – but diving into the vast realm of mindful eating, you will soon realize that it’s anything but boring.

What is Mindful Eating?

Mindful eating is the act of paying attention while you eat.

Some of the basic principles of mindful eating include:
[Read more...]

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Disclaimer: Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits of any foods or supplements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. This also applies to recommended lifestyle changes, mentioned with the intention to help you achieve better health. This site is for informational and educational purposes only, readers are advised to take full responsibility for their actions and consult with a health care practitioner before making changes to diet or lifestyle.