If the food habits of modern society can be characterized in a single word, it would be — overeating. Right from the morning meal to dinner, people now mostly eat until their stomachs are full instead of focusing on eating only the quantity that is required. And as per the latest research studies, eating less is one of the keys to living a longer, healthier life.
Food intake and health
In the U.S., the one thing that has changed the eating habits and made Americans overeat is the huge portions served at restaurants. “Super-sized portions at restaurants have distorted what Americans consider a normal portion size, and that affects how much we eat at home as well,” Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says on the organization’s website.
To understand why overeating is a problem, one must look at the benefits of eating less. And several experiments suggest that the advantages are many. One study conducted on mice found those that lived on a calorie-restricted diet lived a long life, even up to five years. To put that into perspective, a mouse living for five years would be equivalent to a person living to be 160.
Another study saw a group of people reducing calorie intake by 15 percent over a two-year period. “On their own, they achieved a 15 percent reduction in calorie intake that was sustained for the two years, which is pretty remarkable,” WebMD quotes researcher Rozalyn Anderson.
At the end of the study period, it was found that the metabolism of the people had changed. They lost around 20 pounds on average and their biomarkers indicating a slower aging process and a longer lifespan had improved. Blood sugar and insulin levels reduced, while the core body temperature also lowered.
An excellent example of a country that seems to follow the policy of “eat less, live longer” is Japan. People there reportedly eat just a third of the calories that a regular American eats. Yet Japanese are known to have the longest life expectancy in the world. In fact, the country has set the world record of having the highest proportion of people over 65 years of age.
How to cut down on food consumption
If the benefits of eating less inspire you to cut down on your food consumption, there are a few things you can do to make it easier.
First, try to use smaller plates at home instead of bigger ones. People tend to eat whatever portion is on their plates. Since a bigger plate will have larger portions of food, people end up eating more. By using smaller plates, the portion size is reduced. And over time, this will help to reduce food intake.
It is also a good idea to start practicing mindful eating. This simply means that you focus on the food you eat without letting your mind wander into other matters. Unfortunately, many people have a habit of eating their meals when checking their smartphone or watching TV. By doing so, their minds will be focused elsewhere, with sparse attention given to the food being consumed. As a result, there is a good chance they will overeat. Mindful eating prevents such incidents.
If you have a habit of eating large quantities of food, then reducing food intake can seem like a big task. But compared to the benefit of living longer and healthier, changing your eating habits is definitely worth it.