When “just a bite” means anything but …

Do you plan to have one of something, say a biscuit, and find that you can’t stop at just one or two?

Do you intend to have just a taste of something but end up eating it all?

Like an appetiser at a meal, a small tasty bite can stimulate the appetite rather than satisfy it. It often puzzles people that what they end up eating after intending to have just a bit(e) isn’t what they wanted.

  • It may spoil your appetite for your next meal
  • It may throw your eating routine out for the rest of the day
  • It may leave you feeling very unsatisfied
  • It may add to a sense of feeling out of control around food

It is an eating habit that for some unhelpfully contributes to their overweight.

As with all eating patterns, it is eating habits that determine our weight. If you polish off a whole packet of biscuits at one sitting but only do this once a year, it won’t affect your weight. If you do it often, it will. In this case, changing this specific eating habit has the potential to change your weight permanently. Maybe by a pound or two, maybe several. The amount your weight changes will depend on how much and how often you currently eat more than you intended.

With Appetite Retraining, changing your eating habits one step at a time is what produces permanent weight change. When you have changed one specific eating habit and are comfortable with the new habit, you can move on to another to continue your permanent weight loss progress.

If you find yourself eating more than the morsel you intended, ask yourself two questions:

  • What food(s) do I do this with?
  • What times of day/ situations do I do this in?

Which food is it?

Certain foods have an increased tendency to stimulate the appetite. These are called “hyper-palatable” by Dr David Kessler, the author of “The End of Overeating”. They are the processed foods which have been developed as a result of detailed research and testing on what taste/ texture combinations lead them to be especially “moreish”. When you can’t resist more, it’s down to the skill and hard work of food technologists who have spent considerable time and money making their product just so.

“Bet you can’t eat just one!” was the advertising boast of a brand of potato crisps (potato chips)”.


These foods may need keeping out of the house while you change this eating habit. Once you have made more changes and feel more in control around food, you may find that they are OK to have around just for occasions when you want to have them as part of a meal or for a small snack once you have learned that you can have just one.

When am I doing it?

There may be certain times of day or situations when you find this type of eating happening more often. Make a note of when these are and notice whether they are times when you have got to the stage of being hungry outside a mealtime or whether they are times associated with certain triggers such as stress or boredom.

Emotional eating is dealt with in another blog article.

If you are prone to aiming to eat just a small amount but actually eating much more at certain times, try the following. When you think of eating a small tasty snack, first consult your gut. Tune in to how hungry you are right at this moment. Use the Appetite Pendulum to gauge where on the scale you are.

If you are -3, then it is time to eat. If this isn’t a normal meal or snack time and you are doing this often, look at your eating routine. You may need to schedule a regular snack in to this time. If it is a one-off then don’t adjust your overall routine.

Then, start eating the food and as you do, tune in to the hungry feeling in your stomach and gut. Notice as you enjoy the food how the sensations in your gut change as you continue to eat. As soon as you feel just full (+3), stop. Move away from the food. Throw the rest in the bin if needs be while you get used to stopping at this point. With practice you’ll be able to stop eating a bit earlier at “slightly full” (+2). For snacks between meals, this +2 point allows you to digest the snack before your next meal so that you’ll be definitely hungry by that meal and so able to use the signals from your gut to guide when you’ve had enough at that meal.

If you are not definitely hungry, then move away from the food if possible. Waiting until you are -3 and learning to tolerate mild feelings of hunger is an important part of using Appetite Retraining to change your eating habits and is dealt with elsewhere.

This is not some fad diet; it’s getting back to what our bodies evolved to do and what we’ve lost sight of in the face of social and technological changes to eating patterns.

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To book an individual consultation with Dr McCarthy to develop an individualised weight loss programme which fits around your lifestyle,  please email info@theappetitedoctor.co.uk


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