Once again, from the same study: “Our results challenge the notion that ‘eating everything in moderation’ leads to greater diet quality or better metabolic health. Our findings support the importance of diet quality, independent of diversity.”
This resonates with something I hear from so many clients: “I eat all the things I’m supposed to eat – but then I eat all the things I’m not supposed to eat.” Is this you? This increase in diversity does nothing but contribute to weight gain. It’s addictive. It’s overeating. And it’s very likely justified by that handy advice, “everything in moderation”!
In his book, Wired to Eat*, Robb Wolf discusses the impact of novelty on our tendency to overeat. As it’s used here, novelty doesn’t mean a food you’ve never tasted before; it refers to eating something quite different from what you ate a few moments before.
The effect of novelty is remarkable. The best-known example is when finishing a savory meal feeling a bit too full, and then, when offered a sugary, creamy dessert, you suddenly find you certainly have room for more!
Wolf describes those who enter those crazy eating competitions: who can eat the most ice cream, the most hot-dogs, or whatever. At the point when they’ve eaten so much they fear vomiting, which will disqualify them, the contestants eat something quite different – and then happily resume the competition fare. For example, if the competition is eating ice cream, they will eat a few French fries half way through. It’s a winning strategy!
We can use something from this, if we are willing to find our own ways to work towards less diversity in our foods. When you do that, you create more ‘sensory-specific satiety’. The result is you’re much more likely to feel you’ve had enough, without the novel enticements that keep urging you on… and on. This could be at meals, snacks, or across the board in terms of all the foods we tend to eat on a regular basis.
(* I’m not particularly recommending this book, although parts of it are very interesting.)