Three common causes and ways to beat them

August 15, 2008

Emotions can drive you to overeat. So, too, can other triggers.Learn how to spot them, and you'll learn how to beat them.

Dim lighting: The dimmer the lighting, the higher thelikelihood of overindulgence, says a study from the University ofCalifornia at Irvine. Why? "Brighter lighting forces you to be moreaware of what you're eating," says Joe Kasof, Ph.D., lead studyauthor. Beat it by: Sitting outdoors or near windows, usingbrighter bulbs in your lamps, adding lighting to eating areas, ormoving to a brighter room.

Distractions: In another study, when women who normallywatched what they ate listened to a taped detective story, theyconsumed more calories. Researchers suspect the story interferedwith the women's focus on keeping calories in check. Beat it by:Clearing all distractions; let the enjoyment of the meal provideyour focus.

Low energy: "When your energy's low, you may look for foodto pick you up," says Robert E. Thayer, Ph.D., professor ofpsychology at California State University at Long Beach.Unfortunately, most people reach for calorie-laden treats insteadof an apple or banana. Beat it by: Identifying your low-energytimes of day and substituting other activities for eating. Take a10-minute walk or a water-cooler chat break.

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