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Secret Eaters

By WLR's Site Manager, Laurence Beeken

The new Channel 4 series, Secret Eaters, looks at the secret eating habits of overweight families. Examining the psychology and science of eating, Secret eaters looks at the calories needed in a day and has diet tips throughout plus hints to help you lose weight.

New series starts 12th March 2014

Hosted by Anna Richardson, Secret Eaters uncovers why the UK’s waistlines are expanding. From slow metabolism to eating at the wrong time of the day, it seems that many people are in denial about why they gain weight.

Each week, people who are mystified as to why they’re piling on the pounds discover how many calories in the food they’re really eating with 24-hour surveillance. Once the families are aware of the scale of their overeating, they are given a ten-week 'Food Rehab' regime of calorie controlled plans to get them eating healthy foods and losing weight.

The show also features hints and tips why we overeat, and what we can do to overcome our bad habits.  Take a look at our Guide to the Calories in Food and see how many calories are in your favourite foods.

Why are we overeating?

Every day, it is estimated that we make up to 200 decisions about what to eat, most without even thinking, while 4 out of 5 people will eat food without realising that they are doing it. 

According to the show, we underestimate how many calories are in the food that we eat by as much as 20%. In fact, the more calories in the meal, the fewer calories we tell ourselves it contains:

  • Small meal  - 10% calorie underestimation
  • Large Meal  - 40% calorie underestimation

Hidden Diet Saboteurs

The Secret Eaters show highlights that up to 60% of us believe that we eat healthily. However, if a product is labelled ‘lower in fat’, we consume 50% more than people using the full fat alternative. Many of us believe that because a food is described as healthy it must, by default, contain fewer calories. Low saturated fat oils for instance make us believe that we can use more.

  • Frozen food can hide extra oil making the meal contain up to 3x more calories than a home prepared counterpart.
  • Dressings and condiments all add more fat to your meal; that large dollop of mayo could contain double the calories of the portion of chips that it is covering.
  • Beware of calorie information on packs; take time to read what it is actually telling you.  The 100 calories per serving may refer to a small portion size, and if you eat the whole pack you’ll be eating way more.

Convenience snacks such as crisps are well known calorie saboteurs and one of the easiest to overlook.  Their very nature makes them dangerous:

  • They are a high energy source
  • They are convenient
  • They produce a sense of well being

How can you change eating habits?

Research indicates that you need to be honest about what you are really eating.

When we become aware of what we are doing and why we are doing it, we are able to overcome our habits.  Dr David Lewis, Chartered Psychologist  and advisor on Secret Eaters, recommends that by changing the environment in which we eat, we are more likely to be able to change the habit.

Top tip: try swapping hands from your more dominant hand when you eat to make you more aware of what you are doing. The first episode of Secret Eaters showed how this helps you eat fewer calories.

Secret Eaters Episodes from Series 1

When is Secret Eaters on 2014?

Channel 4, Wednesdays 8.00pm

Channel 4+1, Wednesdays 9.00pm

Channel 4 OD

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