“Luke, I am your father,” says Darth Vader. I doubt the words I remember from my youth took place in episode IV of the Star Wars trilogy. Even though I owned every action figure and the Millennium Falcon I can never keep track of episode IV coming before episode I. I quit at Jar Jar.
Episode is a funny word. Conjures up an unruly incident in children when I say the word out loud. Try it. “Little Johnny is having an episode.” Something to get past, to make it through, and as Little Johnny’s parents may attest to, an episode is something to survive. I agree.
As I read through a research article yesterday all of the episodic definitions came to mind. Seems that if you suffer through a 30 minute eating episode v. a 10 minute eating episode you are more likely to call that episode a meal rather than a snack. Talk about surviving. This is important. Although it may seem obvious that if I eat for 10 minutes I’ll eat less as my consumption time is limited when compared to 30 minutes, however, have you ever inhaled a ridiculously high number of calories in 10 minutes? Oh yes. What the current research article points to is the fact that if we call something a meal we eat less later.“I’ve already eaten my meal,” the thinking goes and subtly we are led to consume less later in the day. And with Americans snacking at a rate of 500 calories more than we did 30 years ago calling those snacks a meal may do us some good.
There a few other cues that lead us to believe we’re eating a meal rather than a snack. These include using cloth napkins rather than paper, ceramic plates v. paper plates, real silverware v. plastic, sitting down v. standing (representing the one time I will tell you to sit rather than stand), eating with family v. alone, and consuming high quality food. The last example is left for you to define.
Think of it, if you ate high quality snacks in a 30 minute episode using a ceramic plate and silverware while sitting and chatting with your family you would never snack again. Just remember to wipe your mouth with the cloth napkin when you’re finished and weight control is yours. If only.
Again, each of these examples are subtle cues. They engrain themselves and become part of our habits. The results may not be overwhelming on a daily basis but if we called our afternoon snack a meal maybe we eat a few less calories for dinner. Add those lost calories up over time and they may become meaningful. I’d imagine those cues can be overridden yet definitely food for thought.
This afternoon I will have Nutter Butters for my meal. 3:00 pm sharp.