If you've been eating to lose weight, you may find that some simple healthy eating tips will help. Just changing your environment can help make eating less a lot easier, leading to natural weight loss. A new study conducted by researchers at Cornell University found that changing the environment surrounding food, such as using smaller dishes and glasses, keeping high-calorie foods out of sight, etc. helped people to eat less.
The three-month study was led by the Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Brian Wansink, and used 200 volunteers from the National Mindless Eating Challenge. Each of the study participants was given one of three different categories of diet tips. These were tips to 1) change their eating behavior, 2) change their food choices, or 3) change their environment.
Though all the tips helped the participants who were eating to lose weight, Wansink says, “We found that dieters who were given stylised environmental tips -- such as use a 10-inch plate, move the candy dish, or rearrange their cupboards - stuck to their diets an average of two more days per month.”
Wansink, the author of “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think,” said that being consistent was the main factor in how successful participants were in eating to losing weight. “If a person was able to follow a tip for at least 20 days each month, changes really started to happen.” On average, participants lost one to two pounds per month per tip.
Turn off the TV when you are eating. Studies show over 40 percent more food is eaten while watching TV.
Changing the environment around food helps make you more aware of the food you are eating so you are less likely to eat it mindlessly. For instance, if you eat in front of the TV or computer while munching on a bag of potato chips you will most likely find the bag empty by the first commercial break, even if that bag contains six servings.
Wansink has conducted many studies on people's eating habits and how environmental cues affect how much we eat. In another study he found that Chicago moviegoers ate up to 45 percent more popcorn if it is served in a jumbo bucket as opposed to a medium-sized bucket, even when the popcorn was stale.
In an interesting example of portion distortion, studies have found that you are likely to pour about a third more of a beverage into a short, wide glass than a tall narrow one because the mind emphasizes the vertical over the horizontal. Also, if you use smaller plates you will end up serving yourself less because less food seems like more when the plates are small.
Changing your environment can be an easy first step to changing your eating habits, whether you are eating to lose weight or just want to eat healthier. Concentrating on what and how much you eat, is the next step, but, as Wasink added, “These types of changes are much easier to follow than saying you will eat smaller meals, substitute fruit for sweets, or give up chocolate and French fries.”
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