Those pesky 20 minutes

June 1, 2009 at 1:25 am Leave a comment

stop-watchI’m sure most of you have heard that it takes 20 minutes after eating for your brain to register that you’re full. If you haven’t, well…there you go. It’s true.  How often have we (okay, I) eaten a meal and upon completion not felt full. So we go for a second helping. Then, before you know it, we’re stuffed and angry at ourselves for eating so much. (On a side note,  the second serving of anything we take never tastes as good as the first bite, so I usually say no to seconds. Except chocolate.)

Nutritionists and experts always suggest, especially when dining out, to start with a salad (remember to watch that dressing! I always get mine on the side and dip my fork in a little bit with each bite). Or, a broth based soup will do the trick.  But do you know WHY they suggest this, besides filling up on something with fewer calories than a larger, (usually) more caloric entree?

If you start with a small salad or soup, you’re STARTING the 20 minute clock from the time you take your first bite of that appetizer. Most often, when we have this appetizer or bite to eat first, we’re not as hungry by the time the server brings out the entree. That’s because the stomach has signaled to the brain that you’ve started eating, and the clock has started.  If you were hungry, skipped the soup and went right to  the entree, I almost guarantee you’ll end up eating too much.

So, my advice? Start with something small. And no, I don’t mean eating 3 small dinner rolls, although when they’re soft and warm they certainly are hard to resist.  Eat a healthy salad or a broth based soup (steer clear of soups like bisques, chowders, and “cream of…” which have the highest calories ) to get that 20 minute clock started. It’s so much more pleasant to end a meal feeling satisfied, pleasantly filled, and walking away with your pants still buttoned.

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