Weight Loss: Why You Should Put A Mirror Up In The Kitchen

The taste of fruit salad was unaffected by the presence of a mirror.

The taste of fruit salad was unaffected by the presence of a mirror.

Putting up a mirror in the kitchen could help you eat less unhealthy food, new research finds.

In the study, people who ate chocolate cake felt it was less tasty when there was a mirror in the room.

Fruit salad, though, was unaffected by the presence of a mirror.

Dr Ata Jami, the study’s author, said:

“A glance in the mirror tells people more than just about their physical appearance.

It enables them to view themselves objectively and helps them to judge themselves and their behaviors in a same way that they judge others.”

Dr Jami explains how the mirror works in the paper:

“…consuming unhealthy food in front of a mirror enhances the self-awareness of current behavior.

This leads to discomfort when one realizes that such behavior does not match with one’s ideal standards of 4 living.

Since objective attribution of discomfort to self enhances the discomfort, people utilize a biased attribution process and negatively distort their taste perception to explain the discomfort.”

The study was published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research (Jami, 2016).

Kitchen image from Shutterstock

People Eat Fewer Calories After A Straightforward Change To Home Environment

This straightforward change to the household environment can help people eat fewer calories.

This straightforward change to the household environment can help people eat fewer calories.

Messy environments create stress and that can lead people to eat more than they should, a new study finds.

Keeping the kitchen clean, though, leads people to eat less.

The study had stressed women in either:

  • a messy kitchen with the phone ringing,
  • or a quiet and clean kitchen.

The kitchen had bowls of cookies, crackers and carrots for them to eat.

Those waiting in the messy, noisy kitchen ate 65 more calories in 10 minutes.

Dr Lenny Vartanian, the study’s lead author, said:

“Being in a chaotic environment and feeling out of control is bad for diets.

It seems to lead people to think, ‘Everything else is out of control, so why shouldn’t I be?’

I suspect the same would hold with males.”

The study also compared the effects of being stressed with being relaxed.

Being stressed while waiting in the kitchen led women to eat an average of 100 calories more.

Professor Brian Wansink, a study co-author, said:

“Although meditation, as a way of feeling in control, might be one way to resist kitchen snacking for some, it’s probably easier just to keep our kitchens picked up and cleaned up.”

The study was published in the journal Environment and Behavior (Vartanian et al., 2016).

Weight loss image from Shutterstock

This Very Easy Change To Tableware Can Help You Eat 30% Less

If you’re watching your weight, then here’s a trick that helps.

If you’re watching your weight, then here’s a trick that helps.

Using a plate that’s 30% smaller really does reduce food consumption by 30%, new research finds.

It’s been a controversial topic for psychologists, with over fifty different studies published on the topic over the years.

Some studies have found smaller plates help people eat less, others not.

Now, though, a new survey of all the research finds that the trick works, as long as people:

  • serve themselves,
  • and are unaware they are being monitored.

Over the years scientists have tested all kinds of foods, including snack foods, rice, fruit, cereals and popcorn.

The effect of using smaller plates — as long as people serve themselves and aren’t aware they are being monitored — is usually the same.

They eat less.

Reducing the diameter of a plate by 30% is enough to reduce consumption by 30%.

Dr Natalina Zlatevska, one of the study’s authors, said:

“Just changing to smaller plates at home can help reduce how much you serve yourself and how much you eat.”

If you’re watching your weight, then, it could be time to get some new, smaller, plates.

The study was published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research (Holden et al., 2016).

Plate image from Shutterstock

Why Eating With a Fork Versus A Spoon Can Aid Weight Loss

Even cutlery can unconsciously affect eating behaviour and weight loss.

Even cutlery can unconsciously affect eating behaviour and weight loss.

People eat less when using a fork than when using a spoon, new research finds.

When eating with spoons, though, people assume the food has a lower amount of calories.

The reason why is fascinating.

Scientists had people eating bite-size pieces of food, such as chocolate cake.

They were asked to eat it either with a spoon or a fork.

Afterwards they estimated how many calories it had, how tasty it was and how much more they’d like to eat.

The results showed that when eating with spoons, people taste the food more gradually.

This leads them to think that each bite is smaller…

…and so they eat more.

So, to help weight loss goals, better to stick to the fork.

The study was published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research (Szocs & Biswas, 2016).

Forks image from Shutterstock

Dieting Advice: Only Eat When Hungry — Sounds Obvious But It’s Hard

Why the most obvious dieting advice is so hard to follow.

Why the most obvious dieting advice is so hard to follow.

It might seem pretty obvious dieting advice: only eat when you’re hungry.

Unfortunately we now all live in an environment in which we are surrounded by food.

And these aren’t just any foods.

These are foods that have been engineered to be as attractive to us as possible.

Chocolates, cheeseburgers, potato chips and so on.

All strike directly at our basest culinary desires.

So people tend to eat when they are not hungry.

The result, according to new research, is that blood sugar may spike after eating.

Rapid blood sugar spikes are often unhealthy as they damage the body’s cells.

The message comes from a study which tested the blood sugar levels of people who were either:

  • moderately hungry before eating or,
  • not hungry.

The study’s concludes that it may be healthier for people to eat when they are moderately hungry rather than not hungry.

Advice we can all agree with I’m sure, but which can be difficult to follow….

The study was published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research (Gal. 2016).

Choosing meal image from Shutterstock

How Healthy Foods Can Hurt Your Weight Loss Goal

Healthy foods can paradoxically lead to weight gain rather than helping weight loss.

Healthy foods can paradoxically lead to weight gain.

People eat more of foods labelled “healthy” as they consider them less filling, a new study finds.

The research suggests that those aiming for weight loss should be wary of inbuilt beliefs about healthy foods.

Over a series of studies, scientists found that people automatically see more healthy foods as less filling than they actually are.

When the same food is portrayed as healthy (as opposed to unhealthy), people:

  • order larger portions of the ‘healthy’ food.
  • eat more of the food labelled as ‘healthy’.
  • report more hunger after eating ‘healthy’ foods.

This was even true of people who said they did not believe that healthy foods were less filling.

Ironically, the labelling of food as healthy could actually be contributing to the obesity crisis.

However, the scientists found a way to reverse this.

By highlighting how nourishing healthy foods are, people’s bias was lessened.

Hopefully this article is doing the same thing — whether or not it will lead to weight loss, you will have to find out!

The study was published in The Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, (Suher et al., 2015).

Fork measuring tape image from Shutterstock

Here’s The Psychological Key to Improving Your Physical Health

The key to weight loss, diet change, quitting smoking and more…

The key to weight loss, diet change, quitting smoking and more…

The more people monitor their progress towards a goal, the more likely they are to succeed.

It also seems to matter how you monitor your progress.

The best techniques are publicly or physically recording progress.

For example, those trying to lose weight should regularly weigh themselves in front of others.

The conclusions come from 138 different studies including 19,951 people.

Most participants were trying to lose weight, quit smoking, lower blood pressure or change their diet.

Dr Benjamin Harkin, who led the research, said:

“Monitoring goal progress is a crucial process that comes into play between setting and attaining a goal, ensuring that the goals are translated into action.”

The more people monitored their progress, the greater their chances of achieving their goal.

One key the researchers uncovered was that it is vital to focus mainly on the end result you are looking for.

For example, if you are trying to lose weight, it’s best to monitor and record just your weight.

Some people trying to lose weight who just monitored their diet only succeeded in changing their diet, not in losing weight.

Dr Harkin said:

“The implication of this finding is if you want to change your diet, then monitor what you are eating, but if you want to lose weight, then focus on monitoring your weight.”

Dr Harkin continued:

“Our findings are of relevance to those interested in changing their behavior and achieving their goals, as well as to those who want to help them, like weight loss programs, money advice agencies or sport coaches.

Prompting people to monitor their progress can help them to achieve their goals, but some methods of monitoring are better than others.

Specifically, we would recommend that people be encouraged to record, report or make public what they find out as they assess their progress.”

The study was published in the journal Psychological Bulletin (Harkin et al., 2015).

Healthy image from Shutterstock

Common Cravings Blocked With This Simple Smartphone Game

Three minutes playing this classic smartphone game was enough to block common cravings.

Three minutes playing this classic game was enough to reduce common cravings.

As little as three minutes of Tetris can reduce cravings for food, sex and sleep by one-fifth, a new study finds.

Participants in the study played the old block-shifting game at random times during the day.

Professor Jackie Andrade, one of the study’s authors, said:

“Playing Tetris decreased craving strength for drugs, food, and activities from 70% to 56%.

This is the first demonstration that cognitive interference can be used outside the lab to reduce cravings for substances and activities other than eating.

For the study, 31 people were prompted to report their cravings 7 times during the day.

Half the group, though, played Tetris, then reported their cravings again.

Professor Andrade explained why games like Tetris may work:

“We think the Tetris effect happens because craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity.

Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupies the mental processes that support that imagery; it is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time.”

For the research, people reported experiencing cravings 30% of the time.

Cravings were for things like coffee, cigarettes, sex and socialising.

The most popular cravings were for food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Professor Jon May, another of the study’s authors, said:

“The impact of Tetris on craving was consistent across the week and on all craving types.

People played the game 40 times on average but the effect did not seem to wear off.

This finding is potentially important because an intervention that worked solely because it was novel and unusual would have diminishing benefits over time as participants became familiar with it.

As a support tool, Tetris could help people manage their cravings in their daily lives and over extended time periods.”

The study was published in the journal Addictive Behaviours (Skorka-Brown et al., 2015).

Smartphone user image from Shutterstock

Weight Loss: 2 Things to Focus on BEFORE Diet and Exercise

Two factors which may be central to obesity identified by new study.

Two factors which may be central to obesity identified by new study.

People who keep food visible around the house — especially outside the kitchen — are more likely to be obese, a new study finds.

This suggests the home environment is a vital place to start when trying to a lose weight.

Professor Charles Emery, a psychologist at Ohio State and leader of the new study, said:

“I do think the home environment is a really important place to focus on since that’s where most people spend a majority of their time.

For interventions, we should be thinking about the home as a place to start helping people establish what we know to be healthier habits and behaviors.”

The study also found that low self-esteem related to weight was linked to obesity.

Self-esteem is not normally targeted by adult weight-loss programs, Professor Emery explained:

“Most weight-loss interventions for children and people with eating disorders include a focus on self-esteem, but it’s not standard for adult weight-loss programs.

Self-esteem is important because when adults don’t feel good about themselves, there may be less incentive for implementing behavioral changes in the home environment.”

The results come from a study of 100 people, half of whom were obese.

They were interviewed in their homes about their food consumption and where they stored food.

Two weeks later they were followed up to examine what food they’d bought.

Professor Emery explained the results:

“The amount of food in the homes was similar, but in the homes of obese individuals, food was distributed in more locations outside the kitchen.

That speaks to the environment being arranged in a way that may make it harder to avoid eating food.

That has not been clearly documented before.”

Obese participants in the study said they were more worried about having access to food whenever they needed it.

They also said they found it hard to avoid eating when they were stressed, whether or not they were hungry.

Professor Emery said:

“This may reflect a greater preoccupation with food, and that is also important.

If food is something you’re thinking about a lot, it potentially becomes a source of stress.

And yet it’s something hard not to think about.

You can’t just stop eating, but ideally you can change the way you eat and, to some degree, change the way you’re thinking about eating.”

The study is published in the International Journal of Obesity (Emery et al., 2015).

• Read on: 8 Weight-Loss Tips That Might Surprise You  

Fork measuring tape image from Shutterstock

This is How Often Dieters Should Weigh Themselves

The ideal time between weigh-ins for those watching their weight.

The ideal time between weigh-ins for those watching their weight.

The more frequently dieters weigh themselves, the more weight they lose, according to a new study.

Dieters who weighed themselves daily tended to do best while those who weighed themselves less than about once a week tended to gain weight.

The results come from a study of 40 overweight people who collectively weighed themselves a total of 2,838 times over a year.

The researchers found that:

“Weight increased linearly with the number of days between consecutive weight measurements: the more days between weight measurements, the larger the weight gain.

[…]

…daily self-weighing was generally associated with weight loss while breaks longer than one week and, especially, longer than one month were associated with weight gain.” (Helander et al., 2014)

For people looking to maintain their current weight, the authors advise:

“…during weight loss maintenance, it can be difficult to reverse the trajectory of even minor weight gains.

Therefore, individuals seeking weight maintenance may be encouraged to conduct self-weighing at least weekly.”

The research, published in the journal PLOS ONE, cannot tell us that weighing yourself more causes weight loss.

It may be that more committed dieters tend to weight themselves more.

The authors also say:

“For some individuals, frequent self-weighing may be associated with negative outcomes such as increased body dissatisfaction or decreased self-esteem when progressing too slowly towards or failing in weight loss goals.

Nevertheless, self-weighing frequency and body satisfaction were not found to correlate in a weight loss trial, whereas increased self-weighing frequency was once again associated with greater weight loss.”

Dr. Brian Wansink, one of the study’s authors said:

“The bottom line is: If you want to lose weight, it’s best to weigh yourself every day.

But if you weigh yourself only once a week, do it on Wednesday because that will give you the most accurate reading.”

Image credit: Jeanette Goodrich