Conscious control of food intake
The control of food intake is determined by:
a. Hunger, which controls the demand for calories
b. Appetite, the demand for particular food/s
c. Satiety, the term used to describe the inhibition of further food intake.
d. Sensory specific satiety, whereby you feel satiated by one particular food but yet you continue to eat when new food is presented.
Understanding the complexities of the mechanisms of these determinants cannot be ignored.
The complex signalling networks of neurotransmitters, neuroanatomical structures, peptide receptors and hormones that control food regulation/energy balance can be affected by taste perception & memory at times of feeding, signals of fat mass at tissue level and signals from the gastrointestinal tract related to the presence of food and digestive process.
When these mechanisms that control food intake are defective or damaged, abnormal body weight regulation occurs.
This can produce feelings of hunger, when you are not hungry or provide an increased appetite for a specific food when you are already satiated.
Hunger and satiety are affected by the release of hormones leptin (the satiety hormone) and ghrelin (the hunger hormone).
Defects in the production or signalling of leptin affects the up regulation of food intake, consequently leading to weight gain and/or obesity.
How would this relate to you?
There are also psychosocial/environmental factors (at a party – finger foods, canapés or watching a movie – eating popcorn) and behaviours that are learned and maintained. We are ultimately in control of what we buy and what we eat. If there are foods we are not supposed to eat, we should ensure they are not accessible in the house first and foremost.
If we are out of home or in environments where we cannot control the availability of food, the psychological/behavioural factors are the determining factors. Choices are key!
So what can you do?
- Ensure the home is stocked with healthy foods – plan shopping trips, write shopping lists.
- Prepare meals and times with set quantities of foods.
- Practice self-talk to be consciously aware of food intake and unnecessary consumptions. You may even talk yourself out of eating something you shouldn’t.
- Generally just being aware of portion sizes – have a method/measurement scale that works and stick to it.
- Have control over your mind, actions and understand the consequences of those actions.