With World Obesity Day just past us (October 24), look at these tips to shrink your stomach safely and quickly.

At work, your colleague gives you a big laddu as prasad. Next, your secretary comes with samosas and gulab jamuns; her son has done extremely well in board exams.

You eat this too, and then, drink a cup of hot, sweet tea to wash it all down. Soon, at home, you will have your tea and a snack. A short while later, it’s time for dinner. Nothing new, is there?

Overeating increases stomach size: Our stomach is actually only the size of our closed fist. When full, it stretches; as it empties, it starts returning to its original size. However, when we habitually eat large meals, the stomach muscles lose their natural elasticity and the stomach actually increases in size.

Experts say that it may take as little as two to four weeks of overeating to expand stomach size! A bigger stomach needs a lot more food to feel full and we end up eating more food at every meal.

But we can shrink our stomach. As impossible as it may sound, research shows that it is possible to shrink the stomach back to its original size. Here are a few tips for shrinking your stomach quickly and safely.

Never skip a meal: Dieters think that they are saving on calories when they forego meals. In reality, self-starvation leads to overeating at the next meal.

Eat small meals frequently: Reduce the amount of food you eat at every meal gradually. This will slowly but surely minimise the stomach’s daily stretch; over time, it will shrink and you will need less food. So, eat 5-6 small meals instead of tree large ones every day. This reduces the size of your stomach by one-third!

Stretch your meals: Make the meal last at least 20 minutes. Your stomach, mouth and brain are all connected and it takes 20 minutes of chewing before your stomach signals to the brain that you are full. So extend every meal to at least 20 minutes. Put down your spoon after every bite. Chew the food well and take the next bite leisurely.

Increase intake of fibre-rich foods: Foods high in fibre like chapattis, dal especially whole pulses, fruits and vegetables fill you up faster. This means that your stomach gives the signal of ‘fullness’ to the brain much before you have eaten a large amount of food.

Drink cold water before meals: Drink a large glass of ice water just before meals. The cold causes your stomach to shrink slightly, which will make you feel full faster.

Be positive: Negative emotions such as sadness, depression, anxiety, fear, guilt and anger push us towards overeating. Try yoga for a sense of optimism.

The writer is a nutrition and health researcher and the author of The Power of N: Nutrition In Our Times.

An end to obesity?

In recent years, gastric bypass surgery is becoming increasingly popular. The surgery shrinks the stomach’s capacity from the size of a bottle to that of a small glass and also reconfigures the small intestine. Within a year, patients lose more than 60 per cent of their excess weight.

However, experts caution that gastric bypass is major surgery and should not be undertaken lightly. Surgeons recommend surgery only in cases where obesity is a huge problem.

Our stomach is actually only the size of our closed fist. When full, it stretches