If you have ever lost weight and thenover the next few months gradually put it al back on again you know how hard it is to stay slim and how heat breaking that can be. An easy way to stay slim is to keep track of your intake. Staying slim doesn’t have to mean denying yourself all your favorite foods.
It can be as easy as keeping track of what you are eating. Not that you have to count calories all the time either but only that being aware of your intake is an important part of a healthy diet. Various studies have found that when we don’t keep a mental track, albeit an unconscious one, of what we have eaten we overeat. This unconscious eating can result in extra pounds over time. Check out this portion distortion quiz from NIH.
For example one study at a cafe had two groups served ‘all you can eat’ chicken wings . Both groups were kept constantly supplied with chicken wings but one group had the plate with left over bones removed immediately while the other had bones left to pile up.
The group which had the bones taken away regularly ate considerably more than those who could see the remains. The researchers concluded that those people who saw reminders of what they were eating consumed less in the end. This conclusion was confirmed by another study showing that people wound up eating less candy when they saw their empty wrappers pile up as they ate.
Dr. Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, reviewed the latest research into these hidden persuaders in a recent talk at NIH. For example, the size and shape of containers, he said, can as much as double the amount of food you consume. In a field study at a Philadelphia movie theater, researchers gave participants free popcorn in large or extra large sizes.
Unknown to the participants, they were randomly given popcorn that was either fresh or 10 days old. The researchers found that people eating from the extra-large popcorn containers ate 45-50% more than those eating from the large ones. Participants even ate 40-45% more stale popcorn when it was served in bigger containers.
Even the way food is described makes it more palatable, which means more is eaten. For example a cafe had their menu changed so that plain chocolate cake was renamed “Belgium Black Forest Double Chocolate Cake”. Not only was it chosen more often but diners gave the cake a higher rating when it sounded more desirable.
Plain chocolate cake eaters were more disappointed in their choice even once they had eaten it than were the fancy label group. How strange is that?
Maybe if we re labelled all the boring diet foods like cottage cheese and rice cakes we might start to crave them too!
“By encouraging healthy, mindful eating, we can decrease obesity,” Wansink said. A keen awareness of all these hidden persuaders is an important step in controlling the amount and quality of food you eat.