Wednesday, May 5, 2010
It’s no mystery that many of us struggle to lose weight on the quest for health. And its not that the knowledge or theory of weight lose is so difficult, it’s factors like discipline and convenience that generally sink our best intentions. For many, unhealthy eating verges on an addiction. After all most of us understand the numbers game of weight lose: Eat more calories than you burn, and you gain. Burn more than you eat, and you lose. Tomatoes: Good. French fries: Bad.
Now new research is putting some evidence behind a possibly more effective approach: Changing your environment. Researchers from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab performed a small study in 200 folks aiming to improve their health through weight loss. Participants were put into three groups and given instruction of either 1. Changing their environment, 2. Changing their eating behavior or 3. Changing their diet. After three months the winners were folks in group 1. In fact, they lost 1 to 2 pounds per month per “environmental change” tip. What kind of tips dropped the pounds? Simple things like using smaller plates, moving or removing candy dishes, rearranging their cupboards, abstaining from watching tv or surfing the internet while eating.
The single biggest key was consistency, and after sticking with a routine for 20 days, people were pretty much on track for the rest of the month. The researchers note that such behavioral changes are easier to follow than advice such as “eat more fruit” or “stop eating fried foods.” And another new study from the same researchers adds further support for our strange food choices we make in the name of health. In a separate study they found that people eating fattening foods such as cookies that were labeled “organic” underestimated their calorie count by 40%. They call this the “health halo,” the perception that a healthy label such as “vegetarian” or “organic” adds intrinsic healthiness to a food. Their advice when it comes to such healthfully labeled treats?
“Take your best guess at its calorie count. Then double it. You’ll end up being more accurate, and you’ll probably eat less.” Calorie counting may not always be the best way to lose weight, but when it comes to sweets and treats, its worth at least pondering how many minutes on the treadmill you’ll need to burn off those empty calories, since they provide no other meaningful benefits to human health.
Photo credit: The author
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Posted by Ano Lobb at 3:02 AM