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Research shows that fad diets have only short term results (at best) and can in fact be counter productive in the longer term; they cause adverse effects on human systems, from hormones to lean muscle mass to metabolism. This means that after the diet you are likely to get fatter than when you started. These fad diets are also mentally tough, frustrating and non-sustainable. If you can’t keep it going, then it’s unlikely that you’ll keep the weight loss/health benefits going too. The very word “diet” is contentious. It actually means “what you eat”, but in modern times the word has become inextricably linked to restrictive eating of some sort or another. So the healthy eating tricks below shouldn’t be thought of as ‘dieting” but as being healthy in a clever way.
These brain tricks are now known as “gastrophysics”, although your gran would have known of at least few of them. They can have a profound effect on how full you feel, how much you serve yourself and how much you consume.
Using smaller plates and bowls is another of our healthy eating tricks that will make your brain think that you are eating more. It can’t help but see more food on a smaller plate, even though the portions are exactly the same. This psychological trick is known is known as the “Delboef optical illusion”. This is shown below where the two circles are the exact same size. But the left one is bigger. Is it?
It is also now known that using a bowl instead of a large plate is perceived by your brain to be more food, as the dish will appear to have more depth and volume.
Heavy cutlery also tricks the brain into thinking there’s more food on offer than is actually the case. Heavy bowls and plates are proven to have the same effect.
So, eating on smaller plates and bowls with heavy cutlery is a great first step.
Make eating slower – making it difficult to eat will slow down the eating process. This gives the signals of being full time to reach the brain, so you will stop eating sooner. Using smaller cutlery, chewing food for longer, using chopsticks or Japanese spoons will all help you to eat less with no stress or feeling of dieting. Mindfulness is the key here. Be aware of what and how much you are eating.
Avoid TV dinners – if being aware of how much we are eating is key, then it’s logical that distractions during eating are not a good thing. Distracting activities like TV, the internet and mobile phones all detract us, making us eat more. Up to 30% more research shows.
Eat with the senses – all of them! Take a moment before eating to smell the food and really take it in. A huge part of flavour comes from smell. So get more flavour without eating and you’ll be less driven to get as much as you can when actually eating. Other brain tricks include holding a warm bowl and breathing between mouthfuls. The latter again gives a better sense of taste, thus fulness. Look at your food too. Take it in.
Go for texture – those eating apples will consume fewer calories than those eating apple puree. So choose foods that come with fibre and texture. Try to eat them in their natural state. Don’t put vegetables into a bullet or juicer, eat vegetables!