Before you hit the nearest buffet or pile on the food at dinner time, you might want to reconsider. According to research, you could be getting more than you bargained for when you overeat. That’s because scientists found that eating meals of a large portion size can double your risk of memory loss and cognitive impairment.
Research in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found a link between high caloric intake at meals with cognitive impairment. Those in the high calorie group (those who ate more than 2143 calories daily) had nearly double the risk of cognitive impairment of those people who ate more moderate amounts of food.
An animal study published in Brain Imaging and Behavior found that a high calorie cafeteria-style diet affected the long-term memory of the animals. The study also assessed whether exercise could counteract some of the cognitive damage, but they found that exercise did not reverse the damage linked to diet, albeit relatively mild long-term memory impairment.
How to Feel Full without Overeating
Rather than fill your plate with the standard burger and bun style foods common in North America, opt for nutrient-dense foods that satisfy your body’s needs. Most people mistake their body’s signals for more nutrients with hunger for more food.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that men between the ages of 21 and 40 eat 2400 calories of food daily, dropping to 2200 calories daily for men between the ages of 41 and 60. It recommends that women between the ages of 19 and 25 eat 2000 calories daily, dropping to 1800 for women between the ages of 26 to 50, and further dropping to 1600 for women 51 and older. But, these types of charts treat all calories the same. Let’s face it: a calorie of a Big Mac is certainly not the same as the calories in nutrient dense foods like blueberries, kale or pomegranate, which offer a range of brain-protective and other healing nutrients and phytonutrients (plant nutrients).
Make fruits and vegetables the focal point of your meals but be sure to add foods that make you feel full so you’re less likely to overeat. The easiest ways to do this are to add high fiber or protein-packed foods like legumes, nuts and seeds.
Easy Ways to Give Your Meals a Boost
- Add a half cup of cooked legumes like chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, black beans or other bean to your favorite salad, soup, stew or other food. The fiber helps to regulate your blood sugar levels by regulating the release of natural sugars into the bloodstream. This keeps you feeling full longer.
- Add a handful of cashews or almonds to your favorite stir-fry or veggie dish. The healthy fat in these foods helps to keep you feeling full longer so you’re less likely to overeat.
- Top your favorite cooked vegetables with a tablespoon of flax oil (after these foods have been removed from the heat) and a sprinkle of sea salt. Not only will the flax add a pleasant buttery taste and texture, it will help you feel full longer. And, as an added bonus, the omega-3 fatty acids it contains will take down inflammation and give your brain a healing boost.
- Blend raw cashews with a little garlic, water, sea salt and pepper for a delicious cream sauce to top your favorite pasta or veggies. Or, use less water to make a vegetable dip to use as a snack or meal accompaniment.