- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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May 30, 2009
Overeating — What causes it?
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
It may seem obvious, but it's worth saying that we eat for many reasons — hunger and appetite, of course — but also to celebrate, to be social, to soothe and to relieve boredom. To prevent overeating and weight gain, we first have to understand what drives us to eat.
Hunger: The physical sensation that you need to eat
Think about the rumbling in your stomach. That's a physical sensation. Numerous studies have looked at how hormones initiate and end eating — playing a major role in determining body weight. These include ghrelin, which seems to trigger hunger, and leptin, which reduces it. The physical sensation of hunger — or its absence — is tied to these hormones. The time of day, timing of meals, emotions such as stress or contentment, and even the types of foods you eat all affect these hormones.
Appetite: The desire to eat
"Oh that looks good enough to eat!" You get the picture. Problems with appetite regulation can be mild and contribute to gradual changes in weight — or they can be severe such as anorexia and bulimia. Appetite problems may be caused by disease, medications or even psychological issues.
Satiety: The condition of physically feeling full
Say it with me now, "I couldn't eat another bite." Research has shown that feeling full turns off hunger and appetite. You can feel fuller longer by eating solids over liquids, not skipping meals, choosing high-volume and low-calorie foods (vegetables and fruit), and substituting whole grains for refined grain products. The answer is still out, however, on whether individual diets — for instance high versus low carb or protein or fat — offer an advantage when it comes to satiety.
"Mindless" eating: Eating in response to factors other than those above
This is a term coined for all of the other reasons that we eat. Do you fall prey to mindless eating? Have you noticed that when you order a super-size meal you typically eat all of it? Do certain situations, such as watching TV or talking on the phone, trigger overeating?
Yes, the reasons we eat are complex. Given the epidemic of obesity in this country, it's obvious that overeating is a significant problem. It's critical to find ways to turn down hunger, normalize our desire for food, feel full and satisfied, and deal with the situations that trigger us to mindlessly eat.
What are your thoughts about this? What triggers overeating for you? Better yet, share what works for you when it comes to controlling what you eat.