Counting calories, low carb, low fat – you’ve heard it all. But did you consider these unusual factors in your weight loss strategy?
Vanilla Your Place
Light up a candle scented with vanilla and your lust for after-dinner desserts goes down.
A UK study had people wear vanilla-scented patches and they lost 4.5 pounds. Those with a lemon patch or no patch lost only 1.5 lbs.
I’m not sure this will work if you fancy burritos or a pizza. Smelling those could make you hungry. But where would you find pizza-scented candles, anyway?
A 2011 study asked 60 people to have a sweet or salty afternoon snack right after chewing or not chewing gum. Those who chewed gum had 39 fewer calories of the sweet and 11 fewer calories of salty snacks (PDF). A similar study found an average reduction of 36 calories.
A little caveat exists: the studies were sponsored by the Wrigley Science Institute.
Eat Wrapped Candy
A Swiss study discovered that people ate less candy when each one was individually wrapped. Participants who had to free their sweets ate 30% less than those who just had to grab and pop it in.
The effort of unwrapping each piece on its own sets a mental barrier and the growing pile of wrappers lets you see how many you already had.
Do you get enough sleep? You should, because it can affect your weight.
For five days a 2011 study from New York had people either get four hours of sleep per night or their normal amount. On those days where the researchers pulled them from their dreams the participants ate about 300 kcal more.
No TV When Eating
What happened to the good old times when we all sat down at a table to eat dinner? Today most of us munch away in front of the television or the computer.
It can contribute to you getting fat. Canadian researchers discovered that kids who watched TV while eating lunch ate 228 more calories than those who ate without the television running.
Why? With the TV on you concentrate less on your food and on how much you eat.
Once you start eating, the brain sends the “enough” signal after about 15 minutes, no matter how much you had.
In a 2008 study, women who ate fast had more calories and felt less satiated compared to slow eaters, who also drank more water. A second study found that slow eaters produce more satiety hormones than fast eaters.
Enjoy Your Food
This ties in with the last two: learn to concentrate and enjoy your food. Feel the texture and the taste and savour the experience. Because if you enjoy what you eat, you’ll eat less.
Researchers gave teenage girls milkshakes and with the help of brain scans checked how their brains’ reward centers reacted to it. The more the girls enjoyed the milkshakes, the less they had of them. Those who enjoyed them less had more, to make up for the lack of enjoyment.
In some people the brain’s reward center reacts weaker, but you can make up for it through conscious concentration on the food.
Eat In Front Of A Mirror
Mirror, mirror on the wall, tell me, did I have enough? Your mirror may not reply, but your reflected self-image will.
One study found that eating in front of mirrors reduced the amount people ate by close to one-third. Another that people who had a choice between full-fat, reduced-fat and no-fat foods and saw themselves ate less of the full-fat products (PDF).
The reason lies in self-awareness: you watch yourself doing what you do and monitor your behavior.
Where Do You Sit: A Strategic Choice
Do you often eat out? If yes, where do you sit? Facing the buffet or serving area or not?
Cornell researchers spied on people at Chinese all-you-can-eat restaurants across the United States. Everywhere the heaviest people often sat facing the serving area. The skinny people ate with their backs to the caloric wonderlands.
Make Your Plates Work For You
The bigger your plates, the more you eat. Because large plates make it look like there’s less food on them. In a 2006 study, people poured about double the amount of cereal into a 16-ounce bowl than into an 8-ounce bowl.
Similar effects also go for your cutlery and the glasses you drink from.