How to stop overeating: which foods to avoid

Can’t stop diving in for another slice of brie? Dietitian Susie Burrell explains why we could eat some foods endlessly. 

It may surprise you to hear that when it comes to foods and fullness, there are significant differences in the nutritional make up of foods which means that some foods are significantly less satisfying, or even scientifically formulated to promote increased consumption.

So if you find that at times you cannot stop eating, or find it hard to get full and satisfied, here are some of the foods we are most likely to overeat, and the reason why this is the case.

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Pastries

Whether your favourite go to is a buttery croissant, more traditional snail or greasy meat pie or sausage roll at the footy, of common foods, pastry is rated as one of the least filling overall.

This means that the high fat, high calorie flakes of light pastry are exceptionally easy to overeat, and before you know it you have consumed more than a meals worth of calories without even noticing. For this reason you are always best to save pastry based treats for very special occasions and enjoy it at most once or twice each month.

Chocolate with candy

When it comes to both sweet and high fat foods, the brain has different receptors for different flavours and textures.

This means that the greater the number of tastes and textures a food contains, the easier it is to keep eating. Based on this, you are likely to be able to eat far more of a flavoured chocolate bar like rocky road or peanut butter than you are of plain chocolate. For this reason, when indulging you are always better to opt for single flavoured sweet treats.

Flavoured ice-cream

There is a reason that ice-cream brands keep bringing out more exciting flavour mixes such as cake batter, pretzel and cookies and cream – you are more likely to keep eating an ice-cream that has many different flavours in it. Again for this reason, if you love ice-cream or gelato, the plainer the better.

Corn Chips

Not only is it the salt in corn chips that make them so easy to eat but the majority of flavoured corn chips have flavour enhancers including MSG (621) added to create a moorish taste that makes these high fat treats exceptionally easy to overeat.

Basically the richness of flavour enhancers stimulates the brain, encouraging it to seek more and more of these intense flavours. The take home message, opt for chips and corn chips that do not contain flavour enhancers, only natural flavours.

Dips

As so many dips have a vegetable base, it is easy to think they are a healthy option to enjoy freely with crackers or vegetables but a closer look at ingredient list will reveal that most dips are made using a base of vegetable oil and are extremely high in fat.

With a recommended serve of dips just 1-2 tablespoons at most, you can see that most people overeat their favourite dip when it is within easy reach.

Cheese

Cheese, unlike a number of the foods mentioned is a nutrient rich food that offers protein, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus but it is also a high fat food with just 30g of cheese containing more than 7g of fat.

For this reason, when cheese plates are served it can be easy to eat far more than a suggested 30g serve in one sitting. As such opting for thin or grated cheese will help to keep your portions under control, and pre-cutting larger rounds and blocks of cheese will help to keep your portions controlled.

Susie Burrell is a dietitian and nutritionist and holds a Master’s Degree in Coaching Psychology. Susie is the resident dietitian on Channel 7’s Sunrise and has been a dietitian in Sydney for more than 20 years.