Over the past couple of weeks, I have been plowing through an incredible book called Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting by Darya Rose. "Foodist" is a term Dr. Rose uses to describe a certain kind of eating style (actually, a whole lifestyle). I love that she refers to this as your 'healthstyle'.
Think of using "foodist" in the same way you might use the word "vegetarian" or "Buddhist"... as in, "I am a Foodist", which implies a foodist's life is governed by a set of guiding principles specific to this group of people. Fortunately, being a foodist sounds pretty darn appealing, and the benefits of membership include more energy, more joy, and more great food. Score. :)
Dr. Rose's writing is super-engaging - and her research fascinating: she focuses on habit forming, specifically around food. With a background in neuroscience, she provides some really interesting scientific insight into why we do what we do. Bonus: the book is also wildly practical and outlines tons of great ways to put science to work for you.
She references Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Dr. Brian Wansink a fair amount [another absolutely awesome book that is worth reading!]. Because some of the takeaways have been particularly relevant to my one-on-one clients this week, I wanted to share an excerpt from both books here.
An excess of any food, even great whole ones, can hinder our ability to find the energy, body, and clarity we want. It can be a useful tool every once and awhile to step back and examine just how much we're eating. To be clear, I am not a fan of restriction -- just a big fan of awareness!
Here are a couple of easy ways to reduce portions (particularly for treat foods) without feeling like you're breaking up with them forever.
1. Use smaller plates (and plate your food before you eat it)
It's not surprising: our brains interpret a full plate of food as a more satisfying meal experience than a half-filled one. Using smaller plates and filling them up is a proven way to eat less without noticing. Plating in the first place is effective because you are more likely to serve yourself a proper portion. Use a plate, or a bowl, or even a napkin: just make sure you get a good visual of everything you’re going to eat before taking your first bite.
2. Serve yourself 20% less
The mindless margin is about 20% of any given meal. In other words, you can eat 80% of the food you’d normally eat and probably not notice. You could also eat 20% more without noticing, which is great if you're eating veggies! If you have those smaller plates mentioned above, serving yourself a little less won't even be noticeable. Just remember to pay attention to your energy and how you feel, in order to find the right quantity moving forward.
3. Eat three meals a day
Pop science tells us that eating many small meals is better than eating three bigger ones throughout the day, and North America is the only place in the world where this advised. Funny: we're the heaviest darn continent. Coincidence? Nope. Though skipping meals can make controlling your appetite more difficult, eating more than three meals a day has not been shown to have any benefit, and may even be worse for appetite control. Eat at regular meal times and you shouldn’t need any extra food.
4. Keep snacks out of sight or out of the building
We eat a lot more when food is visible rather than it's put away. Research has also demonstrated that the harder food is to get to (reaching, opening, walking included), the less likely you are to eat it. The extra work forces you to question the value of your action, and this gives you the opportunity to talk yourself out of a decision you may regret later. Out of sight, out of reach, out of mouth.
5. Chew thoroughly
Slow down, chew each bite (counting your chews can help develop the habit) and watch as you fill up faster on fewer calories. Savoring your food also helps to make the whole eating experience more enjoyable -- and isn't that what we're all after anyways?
[adapted from Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think + Foodist] For more from Darya Rose and Brian Wansink, check out their books (below) and this article on Summer Tomato.
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