Weight Management

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

August 20, 2012

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

My bariatric surgery patients frequently comment on the number of fast food commercials that are on television while they are recovering from bariatric surgery. Luckily, most of my patients don’t have much hunger at this point and they aren’t interested in eating fast food.

Have you ever wondered if all those food commercials make you hungry? Do you ever find yourself drawn to the cupboard after you see an Oreo commercial? Or suddenly have a craving for McDonald’s french fries after you see one of their commercials?

There may be something said about the power of suggestion. A small study in this month’s journal Obesity looked at the impact that photographs of food had on 8 healthy subjects’ levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin (the strongest hunger hormone identified to date). Subjects were given breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and then at 10:30 a.m. fifty pictures were presented to them. In one session they were shown neutral pictures, and in the other hedonic foods. Ghrelin levels were measured throughout, and were measured every 10 minutes between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. Perhaps not surprisingly, ghrelin levels were found to increase in response to the photos of hedonic foods.

So, what are our options to defend against this constant reminder to eat while watching television? We could stop watching television all together, watch only public television, or get a DVR so we can fast forward through the commercials.

We could also find a productive, active hobby to do instead of watch television. We could garden more and be a part of the Slow Food movement that Toni Kuehneman describes in her Wellness blog. We could go out for a walk or bike ride or take a group fitness class at the gym, like Grant Hewitt describes in his latest post. We could plan out our meals for the week and do more food prep at home, so we are better prepared to make healthier food choices.

As the old adage goes, “Out of sight, out of mind”. Be careful of the suggestions you may see on the television that encourage food choices that can contribute to health problems down the road. You may find one of the best defenses against poor food choices is simply shutting off the television.

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