How to Strategically Overeat on Thanksgiving Using Science


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By Sarah Sloat

Food is great and delicious and nom nom nom. What’s not great is discomfort. What’s also not great is talking to your mother (or anyone else for that matter) about portion control.

For a non-extracurricular activity we all start day one, eating remains shockingly difficult for a shocking number of adult humans. Pepto-Bismol exists because we’re bad at it and we’re bad at it because it’s complicated for our brains. Food feedback comes at us from several directions and synthesizing the data is tough, especially when the cranberry sauce is winking from across the table.

“The act of digestion is not something that just magically happens — it’s a process that our body has to make happen,” Drew Hays, a registered dietician and a lecturer in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Texas, Austin, told Inverse. “But that sensation — feeling just so full — it’s not only your stomach expanding. There are hormones that are released that tell us, ‘Hey you’ve had plenty, time to quit eating.'”

It takes about 30 minutes for the hormones released by digestion to hit your brain, which basically means there’s a window of time during long meals when the people at the table don’t know whether or not they’re still hungry. When the hormone peptide tyrosine hits the brain, we know we’ve had highly caloric meals and need to stop, but before that we’re all just driving without GPS. The question becomes whether or not we can learn to navigate without our advanced systems providing chemical cues.

Hays points out that everyone has a different relationship with food and while general guidelines say we’re all supposed to be on a 2,000 calorie diet, hardly any Americans stick to that. —> Read More