Just a couple of extra bites at dinner or a few extra snacks a day may not seem like much. But these extra tidbits can add up to 10 pounds of weight gain a year!
Studio 5 Health & Fitness Contributor, Melanie Douglass, shares 6 simple tricks to eat less and lose weight, without going hungry!
These tips seem basic, but thanks to Brian Wansink of Cornell University, there’s valid, compelling (and at times, comical!) research to back them up. Brian Wansink is the author of a really great book: Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.
Check out recent research that shows what triggers us to overeat – and how you can do simple things to eat less.
#1: Downsize Dishes
This applies to dinner plates, glasses, bags of candy, boxes of crackers… anything! People ate more from a 2 lb. bag of M&Ms verses a 1 lb. bag. What about drinking just half of a 44-ounce beverage (not awesome) vs. half of a 12-ounce beverage (better!).
Buy smaller everything when it comes to processes foods, treats and snacks. The extra calories, fat, sugar and sodium are certainly of not a “bonus value” for your health.
§ Research done by Brian Wansink, Cornell University:
• Gave movie goers STALE (5-day old) popcorn in large and medium containers.
• Participants had already eaten dinner, so they were looking at bad food on a full stomach.
• Large container group ate 34% more.
• Even after a 90-minute educational lecture informing people of the fact they will eat more from a bigger container…. people still ate 50% more when served from larger bowls!
#2: Move That Food Further Away!
Think moving food just 6 feet away could save you from gaining weight? You bet! Check this out!
• Secretaries who had candy on their desk ate 9 pieces per day (~255 cals)
• BUT, when placed just 6 feet away…ate only 4 pieces per day (~125 cals)
• Equals 11 – 12 pound weight gain over a year
• Clear vs. opaque bowl made a difference too; secretaries ate 2 more pieces of candy per day from the clear bowl.
In addition, Wansink’s research showed that leaving serving dishes at dinner table can lead to eating 30% MORE! Put the serving dishes by the stove or keep them off the table.
#3: Remember Where It Goes
Most people have heard the rumor that your body doesn’t create “new” fat cells… the thought has been that fat cells just grow in size. Not so. Check this out:
§ When adults overeat:
• Thigh fat cells grow in number
• Waist fat cells grow in size
§ Mayo Clinic Study:
• 28 normal weight men/women, about 30 years old
• Participants were told to eat until “more than full” plus 1 – 4 “supplement” snacks per day of 350 – 500 calories
• After 8 weeks…
* Average weight gain was 10 pounds
* Fat cells in belly got bigger
* Fat cells in thighs grew in number
* Average participant created 2.6 billion new thigh fat cells!!!
So, yes, overeating creates changes in your body that you will have to deal with for the rest of your life. Eating is easy – working it off can take ten times the effort! We know this, but stop and think about it before you eat extra servings.
Source: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 107: 18266, 2010
#4: “Present” your food
If you want to eat healthier foods, then make them look nice. It seems like it wouldn’t really matter, but it does. Research has confirmed that people eat more fruit and healthy foods when they are presented in an appealing format.
Check this out:
§ In one study, researchers moved fruit from a dimly lit service line to a pretty fruit bowl at the end… and fruit sales increased 187%!
§ When people were served the brownie on a napkin vs. fine china (the exact same brownie), they all said the brownie on fine china was “the greatest brownie I ever tasted!”
What this means:
§ Keep a pretty fruit bowl, buy veggies of different, vibrant colors, or create a little collage of healthy snacks for your table.
§ Serve your foods on fine china, or if you want to be practical J, just nice dishes. People tend to eat slower and savor food when it is served on high-quality dishes. A napkin makes it easy to wolf something down without thinking. But fine china, that makes you slow down and appreciate it.
#5: Use Fancy Names
If you want to eat healthier stuff (you, or your kids!) add a few appealing adjectives to the name. Broccoli is just broccoli, but “fresh steamed broccoli” has much more appeal.
§ People tend to eat exquisite foods more carefully and slowly, therefore eating less overall
§ Kids are more likely to try foods with fun names
§ For example: green beans vs. succulent green beans with lemon drizzle
Here’s a great quote from Brian Wansink in an interview with Nutrition Action in May 2011:
“Q: What else influences people?
A: Names. A while back, someone who operated a healthy cafeteria called to say, “No one is eating in our cafeteria. What should we do?” So we simply changed the names of the foods they served. Instead of Italian Pasta, we called it Succulent Tuscany Pasta. Or instead of Chocolate Cake, we called it Belgian Black Forest Cake, even though the Black Forest isn’t in Belgium. Once we added a descriptive name, sales jumped by 27 percent. And it’s not just that food. People rated the restaurant better and the chef more competent. If you believe that something’s going to taste good, you look for the qualities that confirm that. If you believe the milk is spoiled, you drink the milk looking for confirmation of that, too.”
— Nutrition Action, May 2011, page 3. www.cspinet.org
#6) Saving .20 Cents Isn’t Worth Compromising Your Health
You know the routine. A small drink (22 oz.) costs $2.50, a medium (32 oz.) costs $2.75, and a large (44 oz.) costs $3.00. Why not get the large?
This happens with fries, chips, popcorn, combo meals and all kinds of stuff that wreaks havoc on our health.
So to overcome this, create your own mental “power thought” – something you think about that reminds you that this “value” is not worth compromising your health.
If that doesn’t compel you to skip the “value” upsize, think about it like these “power thoughts”:
· Twenty cents (.20) isn’t worth diabetes.
· It’s not a good value if it gives me heart disease.
· My body is not a garbage disposal!
· Just because there is excess food around doesn’t mean I have to carry it around on on my waistline!