Power of Choice is Still Necessary

Most of us have had someone tell us to eat more slowly.

Usually they say eating slower will let us feel full before we have eaten too much. We can wolf down so many calories so quickly that we still think we’re hungry even though our stomach is full! So, it makes sense to eat more leisurely meals.

But does eating more slowly deter us from snacking between meals? Research suggests it may not. Researchers fed the exact same meal to 38 men and women, ages 24 to 30, on two different days. One day they got the food all at once and finished eating within 30 minutes. The next time, food was presented in a staggered manner with up to 25 minutes between courses. 

On each day blood samples were taken to measure the levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite. Each volunteer was quizzed about their feelings of satiety or hunger.

After the staggered meal, participants felt less hunger and higher satiety–and their ghrelin levels were lower than after the quick meal. What was surprising was those differences did not influence the eating behavior 2.5 hours later when the diners were presented with a feast of snacks that included cake, chocolate-covered marshmallows, chips, nuts and waffles. There was no significant difference in the number of calories they consumed.

Common sense, physiology and reason were overcome by the presentation of delectable, mouth-watering morsels! Eating slowly was no guarantee that they would abstain from snacks just 2.5 hours later. 

It is easy for me to assume I have greater self-control than these participants did. If I am full, why would I snack when I know I don’t need the calories? Yet I can think of times, even recently, when my mouth has watered at the sight of a juicy morsel when I knew I had eaten plenty. The Bible describes this dilemma in Romans 7:19:  “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.

What can those of us who fight the “battle of the bulge” do? We still need to exercise our God-given power of choice to do what we know to be right–and God will give us strength: “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

I need that kind of help in my life!