So, you want to lose weight. Great! I would obviously first recommend that you go on a diet and a calorie deficit. Oh shit, I just scared you off because I said the word “diet.” Or maybe you like the idea of going on a diet but that’s just too hard to do because you’re on a campus meal plan and don’t wanna go through the effort of counting your calories and macronutrients. Well, either way, my next suggestion would be to use these following tips to help trick your brain into being satisfied with less. Unfortunately, you can’t use these tips on girls, sorry.
The main idea behind all these tips is that you’re strengthening the connection between the mind and the stomach by actually paying attention to the food you are eating. These tips won’t really teach you how to “trick” your brain, they just teach you to actually start listening to your body and to stop eating once you feel full. We’ve just been conditioned to eat food a certain way our whole lives so it will feel like we are “tricking” our brains once we start feeling full after eating less food than we are used to. Anyways without further ado, please enjoy these 3 scientifically proven tips to eat less without going on a diet:
Whether its seen as rude in your culture to leave food on the plate, you’ve been peer pressured to care about food waste, or its merely unsatisfying to not have a perfectly clean plate when you're done eating, we have been conditioned to eat all the food off our plates. So, if we’re already programmed to clear our plates, why don’t we just use a smaller plate that fits less food! A 2013 study of an all-you-can-eat buffet showed that diners who selected a large plate, served themselves 52% more food than those who selected a small plate and in turn consumed 45.1% more food and wasted 135.2% more food (Wansink & Ittersum, 2013). Using a small plate means eat less and waste less. Good for your health and the environment!
Quarantine is making this one easier and easier, having no friends also helps though! A 2007 study of pre-school aged children found that children would eat 30% more food when eating in a group of 9 other children versus just 3 other children (Lumeng & Hillman, 2007). I know, I know, they’re toddlers and not college aged kids. But the idea behind this study is fewer people means fewer distractions means you pay more attention to your food, and lo and behold that’s the next tip!
Watching TV, talking with friends, going on your phone all distract you from everyday life. This is great when you need to distract yourself from your loneliness, but it’s not so great when you’re eating. A 2006 study measuring the Energy Intake (EI) of participants while performing various tasks, showed that “eating with friends increased EI by 18% and eating in front of the TV increased EI by 14% relative to baseline.” The study concluded that eating with friends and watching TV, takes your attention away from eating food and therefore directly causes an increase in food intake (Hetherington et al., 2006). Paying attention to your food and focusing on what you’re consuming will help your mind realize you’re full quicker and will cause you to stop eating sooner.
Well there you have it, if you're looking to lose weight but are scared of four-letter words like diet (and love) then try these 3 tips out and see how it goes. Use smaller plates, eat in smaller groups, and remove all distractions while you're eating. Even if you're not trying to lose weight, these are still simple and effective habit changes that could change your overall health for the better.
Hetherington, M, et al.“Situational Effects on Meal Intake: A Comparison of Eating Alone and Eating with Others.” Physiology & Behavior, vol. 88, no. 4-5, 2006, pp.498–505., doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2006.04.025.
Lumeng, J. C, and K. H Hillman. “Eating in Larger Groups Increases Food Consumption.” Archives ofDisease in Childhood, vol. 92, no. 5, 2007, pp. 384–387.,doi:10.1136/adc.2006.103259.
Wansink, Brian, and Koert Van Ittersum. “Portion Size Me: Plate-Size Induced Consumption Norms and Win-Win Solutions for Reducing Food Intake and Waste.” Journal ofExperimental Psychology: Applied, vol. 19, no. 4, 2013, pp. 320–332.,doi:10.1037/a0035053.
A special thank you to all my friends and family who have not only supported me on my journey but have helped along the way. None of this would be possible without them. Remember to take time to appreciate those in your lives!
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