Dev Mishra, M.D.
President, Sideline Sports Doc
Medical Director, Apeiron Life
Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University
July 21, 2020
- Some types of nutritionally healthy foods can become addictive, causing you to consume too many calories
- Physically limiting portion size and access are two effective ways of limiting over-consumption
During the new stay-at-home normal you’ve been doing your absolute best. You’re following all of the recommended safety precautions to avoid contracting the virus. You’re staying socially connected to your friends and relatives while maintaining a safe physical distance. You’re trying to exercise. And you’re trying to eat healthy.
But could you be doing too much of a good thing? I’ve written previously about overuse injuries or unaccustomed use injuries from exercises you may have recently started. And so it is also with the foods we eat. While many foods are nutritionally healthy, they may also be packed with calories and at some point you’ll need to figure out how to say “no”.
Author Tim Ferriss calls these “domino foods” because you can’t eat just one. Learning how to limit your consumption of domino foods is a useful skill.
Common Domino Foods
A domino food is one that is generally healthy when eaten in moderation. However, when eaten in excess you could literally end up tipping the scales. Some examples of these types of foods are: nuts (especially Macadamia, pecans, Brazil nuts, and walnuts), nut butters, avocado, hummus, full fat dairy, and even whole wheat pasta.
Calories Still Matter
When it comes to how your body looks and how much you weigh there are three key factors. What you eat (eat the best quality food), when you eat (consider time restricted eating), and how much you eat (the number of calories you take in relative to the number of calories you burn).
Interestingly there is some controversy surrounding the issue of number of calories consumed in a day, but most nutritional experts agree that calories do in fact matter. All other factors being equal, a slight calorie deficit will help you to lose weight and a slight calorie gain will definitely help you increase weight.
Physically Limit Access To Domino Foods
The problem with these nutritionally beneficial and tasty foods is that it can be hard to put the brakes on how much you eat. Take Macadamia nuts for example. The “average” serving is about 10 to 12 nuts, and contains about 220 calories. I happen to love macadamia nuts and I can tell you that it’s really easy to go well beyond this average serving size. You can easily down about 600 calories of these before you’ve realized it.
Willpower for most people is not enough. One of the more effective strategies is to physically limit access to these foods. For example, place only a small number of the nuts that you wish to eat in a plastic bag and don’t go beyond this. The same strategy could be used for items such as hummus or dairy, measure it out ahead and don’t go beyond that.
Following these strategies will help you to keep doing the right thing with your food without overdoing it.