Oprah: Maya Angelou says that when you know better, you do better, so here's the 64-million-dollar question: Why is it that we Americans, who have heard all the advice a thousand times—go with unsaturated instead of saturated fats, eat more fruits and vegetables and less white food, cut back on red meat—don't do better?
Dr. Oz: Oprah, you taught me this: People change based on what they feel, not what they know. Which means that understanding all that advice doesn't matter if there's no deep, profound, visceral awareness of why it's important. We know what we should and shouldn't put in our mouths, but in those times that pull on our souls, we revert to what's emotionally comfortable.
Oprah: You can say that again.
Dr. Oz: You know, our ancestors didn't have this challenge. They never had a problem with too much food.
Oprah: Their problem was not enough.
Dr. Oz: Exactly. They had to eat whenever food was around. And we're actually still hardwired the same way. The big difference is we don't have to hunt for our food. For us, "hunting" comes down to sliding the milk carton out of the way.
Dr. Oz: We pick up what's behind the milk carton and put it in our body. Which is why I spend most of my working hours trying to get us to pay attention to what we eat. If your best friend were eating as poorly as you are, how would you deal with it? That's the question you have to ask yourself.
Oprah: But it's even worse than that. Not only do our friends eat poorly but our children do, too. That's why we have an epidemic of childhood obesity.
Dr. Oz: People say their weight is genetic. But it turns out that people who are overweight don't just have overweight kids. They also have overweight pets. That's not genetic. So much of eating is about customs and habits, and we've developed some unfortunate ones. Not enough families eat together. We eat in front of the TV while we're absorbed in a program. You know, the average person will eat up to 50 percent more food when distracted.
Dr. Oz: Plus, it takes around 30 minutes for your body to realize you're full, so if you're hungry when you sit down to eat, and you eat as quickly as most Americans do, you're just going to keep throwing down food before that feeling kicks in.
Oprah: That's right. When you're really hungry, you're eating, eating, eating until you can feel not-hungry anymore.
Dr. Oz: And can I point out something else? I recently learned that the more decisions we make in a day, the more likely we are to make bad decisions—because deciding wears us down. You start making decisions in the morning, and by the middle of the afternoon, you're running on fumes.
Dr. Oz: And unfortunately, one way to fuel the brain to make more decisions is to feed it carbs. So as the day goes on, you start to crave more carbs—especially women, because women tend to make more of the day-to-day decisions in our lives than men.
Oprah: That's why we have the 4 o'clock slump.
Dr. Oz: Yes. So here's a simple tip: To the extent that it's possible, don't make so many decisions. Do what you can to automate your life—and your food—during the day, and then when 4 o'clock rolls around, it doesn't have to be "Pass the chips."
Oprah: You should be turning on The Dr. Oz Show at 4!
Dr. Oz: As long as you're not eating chips while you watch. But seriously, in my opinion, here's the number one reason Americans are heavy: The brain, very smartly, wants nutrition. But the average American is not eating nutrients; he or she is eating empty calories. So you finish that 2,000 calories and your brain says, Keep going until you get nutrients.
Oprah: That's the grazing feeling.
Dr. Oz: Exactly. The brain is literally looking to feed itself.
Next: Dr. Oz on his own eating habits
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