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How to stop overeating

| Sunday, June 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Like many habits, overeating is often triggered by emotional factors and can have serious physical and psychological ramifications if not addressed.

While gluttony may not hurt you in the short-term, it represents an assault on the body and can contribute to serious long-term concerns if practiced on a regular basis.

Here are tips to help curb the desire to overeat:

Be mindful: When we eat with distractions, such as reading, we often don't remember that we ate or else we may feel like we didn't eat that much, so we keep on eating.

Portion control: Buy single-serving portions, or create them with baggies to give yourself a built-in advantage over the mindless habit of eating a large portion.

Size matters: Trade down dish sizes to help reduce portions. Normal-size portions can look small and dissatisfying on today's oversize dishes.

Eat more slowly: It can take up to 20 minutes after eating for the brain to receive fullness signals.

Choose wisely: Avoid restaurants that pride themselves on big portions.

What's eating you?: Practice safe, alternative ways of working through unpleasant feelings, such as talking to friends, exercising, listening to music, etc., instead of turning to food.

Chew on this:

• According to a recent Pew survey, 6 in 10 Americans said they eat more than they should either “sometimes” or “often.”

• While the consumption of food triggers the release of good-feeling dopamine, a 2012 University of Texas at Austin study published in The Journal of Neuroscience suggests that “obese individuals have fewer dopamine (D2) receptors in the brain relative to lean individuals and overeat to compensate for this reward deficit.”

• A Yale University study suggests there may be a link between the rising consumption of fructose — a sweetening agent increasingly present in processed food and drinks over the past 30 years, in parallel with the rise in obesity — and the increased incidence of overeating. Unlike the consumption of glucose, which suppresses areas of the brain associated with a desire for food, researchers believe fructose may play a role in stimulating appetite.

• Founded in 1960 and headquartered in New Mexico, Overeaters Anonymous (www.overeatersanonymous.org) estimates its membership at 54,000 in more than 75 countries. It uses a 12-step program to help members combat overeating.

— Asbury Park (N.J.) Press

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