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Have We Finally Found the Cure for Obesity?

Harvard scientists are excited about the thunder god vine. Nutrition Diva? Not so much.

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
4-minute read
Episode #339

Opportunity. You probably know the joke about the “see food” diet. “Whenever I see food, I eat it!” Sometimes we eat simply because food crosses our path. We head into a meeting and there’s a tray of muffins on the table. We walk into the kitchen and find a bag of chips on the counter. We’re on a plane and the flight attendant hands us a packet of cookies. Do we stop to think, “Am I actually hungry right now?” or “Do I even like this type of cookie?” Nah. We just eat it.

I call these “calories of opportunity” and I talked more about how to inoculate yourself against them in my episodes on The Power of Planning, Why We Overeat, and Why Willpower isn’t Enough.

4. An Irresistible Temptation. This one is perhaps the hardest one of all to combat. We’re not hungry—and we know it—but something so delicious appears that we simply can’t resist. Maybe it’s a homemade dessert we didn’t see coming or a loaf of bread still warm from the oven. Hungry or not, some things are just hard to say no to. 

But before you go for it, ask yourself, “Am I truly going to enjoy this?” I used to find doughnuts irresistible, for example. And then one day I realized that they never actually taste as good as I imagine they will—I don’t actually like them as much as I think I do! Now it’s much easier for me to say no.

You might also consider how often you have the opportunity to enjoy this treat. Even if I truly did enjoy doughnuts, there’s a doughnut shop right next to the grocery store that I visit a couple of times a week. I can have them pretty much anytime … so there’s really no excuse to eat one when I’m not hungry.

My mother’s rhubarb pie, on the other hand, only comes around once a year, when rhubarb is in season. And when something both scrumptious and rare crosses your path, it’s almost impossible to say no. But maybe you can at least wait until you’re hungry to enjoy it. I’m not going to pass up Mom’s rhubarb pie. But if I’m already full from eating a big meal, I might save it to eat the next morning for breakfast, when I’ll actually be hungry. 

(Are you a pie lover? Don't miss this post on lard and pie crusts.)

Keep in Touch

Do you struggle with boredom eating or calories of opportunity? What are your most effective strategies? Share them below or on the Nutrition Diva Facebook page.  And for those who are just hungry all the time, check out my tips on 3 Tips on How to Eat Less Without Feeling Hungry.

Junk food image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.