Nutrition News & Views

Cue the Food, Cue the Weight

plate of french fries with topping of cheese and bacon

Our world constantly "cues" us to eat and drink. TV shows, food ads, endless aisles of food and drinks at supermarkets and bottleshops, vending machines, chocolate bars and chips strategically-placed when paying for petrol or buying groceries.

Even in lockdowns, delicious deliveries are as close as our phone app. Not to mention all the food porn on our social media feeds.

The cafe life is a constant temptation for many of us.

Food cues trigger cravings, prompt eating, predict weight gain... and are hard to resist. They can make us feel hungry even if we are not.

It’s easy to fall into eating on autopilot - especially with the multitude of snacks that are available - gradually sabotaging our willpower.

So, how to switch off the eating autopilot?

Go Minimalist

Try to minimise the time spent in highly-cued food environments.

Avoid food courts, take a list when shopping at the supermarket (and stick to it!), and take your own snacks to places where highly-palatable but high-calorie food is advertised, like the movies.

Ditch the oily popcorn and take a healthy snack, such as nuts.

Get Distracted

Forget all that advice about not getting distracted while doing something, when it comes to reducing food cues, distraction is your ally. Activities such as walking, hobbies, reading or (gasp) working can take your mind off frequent snacks, or at least keep you occupied until regular mealtimes.

A few minutes personal care, even something as simple as applying hand cream or aftershave, can be a little reward for avoiding the chip packet.

Swap The Plate

A very simple way to reduce portion sizes is just to swap to smaller plates.

No, that doesn’t mean you can have two helpings... or that you can load the plate sky-high.

Get Support

Don’t go it alone. Enlist family and/or friends for support, to encourage progress.

Make sure that all support is positive – negative reinforcement (“you haven’t lost any weight this week”) will not help.

You will probably find several in your family or social circle that are also struggling to maintain healthy weight, allowing a two-way support network.

Still having problems resisting those food temptations? Maybe a good RROAR can help!

Natalia Knezevic is an Accredited Practising Dietitian in Orange, New South Wales, providing flexible and achievable nutrition solutions.