That’s what Mike Posner tells me. Not sure who Mike Posner is but his song is a hit. This is also what my body is telling me, “Baby, please don’t go,” and by go I mean go out, leave home, bye bye. Why? A recent article confirms what many of us who struggle with weight already knew: that when we leave the confines of our homes we struggle even more with eating.
“Overweight and Obese Humans overeat away from home“, by de Castro and his colleagues is an interesting view into the world of eating out. And not just at a restaurant, but anywhere that is not your home. I love the fact that the title states “humans,” as if dogs regularly leave home to eat out. On second thought, maybe they do. I know a dog who once left home alot. Not sure if it was for food or the St. Bernard that live a few blocks away.
In the present study over 1,000 people were followed for seven days and overweight and obese individuals ate larger meals than their normal weight counterparts when away from their normal confines. Surprisingly, normal weight individuals actually ate a bit less when going out (600 calories out vs. 630 calories at home). Conversely, overweight and obese individuals consumed about 550 calories at home and nearly 700 while out. Quite a difference. Another added twist, overweight individuals didn’t consume much alcohol at home while normal weight individuals imbibed a bit, however, when out, normal weight individuals didn’t alter their alcohol intake dramatically while the overweight grouped consumed significantly more. Now would be a good time to ask, “Why?”
By way of explanation, let me share a few highlights of the article. Love these lines:
“The built environment has been implicated in the development of the epidemic of obesity.”
“The General Model of Intake Regulation (de Castro & Plunkett, 2002) suggests that as long as the environment and physiology are stable, body weight will be maintained at a stable settling point. A new stable body weight will only be attained if a long-term change in either the environment or the physiology occurs.”
“Overweight/obese individuals appear to be more responsive to environmental cues for eating away from home.”
Put these in context of the article. The built environment impacts how much we eat and it impacts those with weight struggles more. Chicken or the egg? Look again at the general model of intake regulation mentioned: as long as the environment and physiology are stable, so is weight. I would argue that our physiology has remained relatively stable over the past 30 years and that a huge factor in the obesity epidemic is the environment, both built and otherwise. This speaks to how powerful an influence our environment is. We take in cues all the time whether we are aware of them or not, and as de Castro points out above, overweight and obese individuals are more responsive to these cues. Don’t go out! Stay at home forever!
In practical application in our household here is how it goes:
Me: Let’s go out to dinner. (Inner monologue: “Yes, appetizers, big portions, love it!)
Partner: Ok (Inner monologue: “Sounds good, I can enjoy a nice, normal meal without having to cook.”)
And therein lies the difference, I struggle with weight and my partner more easily maintains hers. I am a victim of my environment, she does not seem to be. She listens to her body, I listen to what’s going on around me.
In light of not being able to avoid leaving our home at some point, and trust me, I eat well at home, I need to think of strategies to eat less and be much less responsive to my environment when I go out. Awareness is the first step to success. I am aware, brutally aware, of how much the built environment reels me in. Next time I go out I will repeat a mantra that I previously wrote about in relation to a friend’s running:
Will it allow me to bring my inner monologue in line with what I need to do? We shall see.