Nutrition model stresses positive experience of eating

September 18, 2007

Enjoying the eating process without focus on dietary restrictions may be key to managing weight and staying healthy, according to researchers who have unveiled a new and effective model for managing eating.

The Satter Eating Competence Model, also known as ecSatter, was created by Ellyn Satter, a registered dietitian, family therapist and author of “Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family,” Kelcy Press.

Competent eaters are positive, flexible and comfortable with their eating habits and make it a priority to regularly provide themselves with enjoyable and nourishing food. They guide food intake based on the internal processes of hunger, appetite and satisfaction, and rely on the body’s innate ability to maintain a preferred and stable weight.

Satter observes that the eating competence model cultivates effective eating attitudes and behavior by emphasizing permission and discipline:

--The permission to choose food you enjoy and eat it in amounts you find satisfying.

--The discipline to provide yourself with regular and reliable meals and snacks and to pay attention when you eat them.

Being eating competent appears to mirror overall-well being, notes Satter of Madison, Wis. People with high eating competence feel more effective, are more self-aware and are more trusting and comfortable both with themselves and with other people.

Barbara Lohse, associate professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State, directed the research on ecSatter. Dr. Lohse underscores the model’s attention to psychological and biological needs.

"Many of us have eating problems, because as children, we are forced into eating more or less food than we need. That is traumatic. Eating becomes a mindless activity invested with conflict and anxiety, and not something to be enjoyed. To overcome those feelings, you have to ignore how you feel about eating, just eat," said Lohse.

Research by Lohse and her Penn State colleagues suggests that people with high eating competence do better nutritionally, have healthier body weights, higher levels of good cholesterol and fewer of the components of “sticky plaque,” today’s high-tech approach to predicting the tendency to cardiovascular disease.

The Penn State researcher says ecSatter represents a fundamental shift from the conventional approach to eating management. "If it was successful to have people be uncomfortable and restrictive with what they eat, just going by the rules for the nutrients and calories they need, we would not have an obesity problem," said Lohse, whose findings appear this month (September/October) in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

"We need a different mindset: Weight is not the big issue, but rather being comfortable with how you eat," she added.

According to Satter and Lohse, there are four steps to competent eating:

--Take time to eat, and provide yourself with rewarding meals and snacks at regular and reliable times.

--Cultivate positive attitudes about eating and about food. Emphasize providing rather than depriving; seeking food rather than avoiding it.

--Enjoy your eating, eat things you like, and let yourself be comfortable with and relaxed about what you eat. Enjoying eating supports the natural inclination to seek variety, the keystone of healthful food selection.

--Pay attention to sensations of hunger and fullness to determine how much to eat. Go to the table hungry, eat until you feel satisfied, and then stop, knowing another meal or snack is coming soon when you can do it again.

The journal’s special section is partially funded by Penn State’s Department of Nutritional Sciences, the College of Health and Human Development and the Sunflower Foundation, Topeka, Kansas.

Source: Pennsylvania State University

Explore further: Smarter apps to help fight the scourge of eating disorders

Related Stories

Smarter apps to help fight the scourge of eating disorders

November 17, 2017
Around 20 million people in the EU suffer from eating disorders with an annual associated cost of EUR 1 trillion. Debilitating and stressful at best, at worst fatal, those suffering can face long delays in getting treatment. ...

Increased taxes on high fat and high sugar foods will help improve children's diets

November 13, 2017
Increasing the tax on high fat and high sugar foods will help improve children's diets. This is one of the recommendations from the British Psychological Society report "Changing behaviour: Childhood nutrition' published ...

When vegetables are closer in price to chips, people eat healthier, study finds

November 16, 2017
When healthier food, like vegetables and dairy products, is pricier compared to unhealthy items, like salty snacks and sugary sweets, Americans are significantly less likely to have a high-quality diet, a new Drexel University ...

Eating disorder treatments need to consider social, cultural implications of the illness

November 13, 2017
People in treatment for eating disorders are poorly served when it comes to addressing the cultural aspects of eating problems, according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Gobbling your food may harm your waistline and heart

November 14, 2017
People who eat slowly are less likely to become obese or develop metabolic syndrome, a cluster of heart disease, diabetes and stroke risk factors, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's ...

Eating regular variety of nuts associated with lower risk of heart disease

November 13, 2017
People who regularly eat nuts, including peanuts, walnuts and tree nuts, have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease compared to people who never or almost never eat nuts, according to ...

Recommended for you

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible, study shows

November 17, 2017
Eleven days after Boulder-born Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon in new state-of-the-art racing flats known as "4%s," University of Colorado Boulder researchers have published the study that inspired the shoes' ...

Vaping while pregnant could cause craniofacial birth defects, study shows

November 16, 2017
Using e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the oral cavity and face, according to a recent Virginia Commonwealth University study.

Study: For older women, every movement matters

November 16, 2017
Folding your laundry or doing the dishes might not be the most enjoyable parts of your day. But simple activities like these may help prolong your life, according to the findings of a new study in older women led by the University ...

Children's exposure to secondhand smoke may be vastly underestimated by parents

November 15, 2017
Four out of 10 children in the US are exposed to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. A new Tel Aviv University study suggests that parents who smoke mistakenly rely on their own physical senses ...

How pomegranate extract alters breast cancer stem cell properties

November 15, 2017
A University at Albany research team has found evidence suggesting that the same antioxidant that gives pomegranate fruit their vibrant red color can alter the characteristics of breast cancer stem cells, showing the superfood's ...

Serious health risks associated with energy drinks

November 15, 2017
A new review of current scientific knowledge on energy drinks finds their advertised short-term benefits can be outweighed by serious health risks—which include risk-seeking behavior, mental health problems, increased blood ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.