Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Restraint in Eating: Good Practice or Bad?

It seems to me that if you purposely attempt to eat less, it will benefit you in reducing your weight. But, over the years many experts have said that this is not the case, because it is a practice that backfires, leading to binging and weight gain.

Now a new study shows that practicing restraint in eating is important to our health, especially as we age.

Women who participated in the study had more than twice the risk of substantial weight gain if they did not become more restrained in their eating. “While some suggest that restrained eating is not a good practice, given the environmental forces in America’s food industry, not practicing restraint is essentially a guarantee of failure,” said Brigham Young University professor Larry Tucker, the study’s lead author.

The study followed 192 middle-aged women for three years and tracked information on lifestyle, health and eating habits. Their analysis revealed that women who did not become more restrained with eating were 138 percent more likely to put on 6.6 pounds or more. In other words, showing restraint (or constantly being aware of what we ingest and monitoring it) becomes a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle as we age.

The findings highlight an important principle of weight management. “Because the body's energy requirements progressively decline with age, energy intake must mirror that decrease or weight gain occurs,” says another of the research fellows at Columbia’s Obesity Research Center. “The observation that women who practice eating restraint avoid the significant weight gain commonly observed in middle age is an important health message.”


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