Clean Up Your Act

Ad­dress bad diet habits to slim down

Runner's World (UK) - - In This Issue -

Beat messy diet habits

DIET DIS­AS­TER Clut­tered kitchen

Jeans feel­ing snug? Take a look at your counter. A study from the Food and Brand Lab at Cor­nell Univer­sity, US, found that peo­ple who spent time in a kitchen that had a sink filled with dishes ate twice as many cook­ies from an eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble bowl as those who had a clean kitchen. An­other Cor­nell study showed that peo­ple who left un­healthy snacks on their kitchen coun­ters were up to 26lbs heav­ier than those who stashed these items out of sight or didn’t have them in the house at all. ‘If your kitchen is messy, it can lead to feel­ings of be­ing out of con­trol, which may

lead to mind­lessly snack­ing on items you have easy ac­cess to,’ says Alissa Rum­sey, spokesper­son for the Academy of Nu­tri­tion and Di­etet­ics. ‘Even a hand­ful of crisps or a few bis­cuits each time you go into the kitchen soon adds up.’

THE FIX Store treats out of sight – and out of mind. Re­search in the jour­nal Ap­petite found that women who had to walk six feet for sweets ate about half as many as those who had them within arm’s reach. In­stead of treats, leave out health­ier snacks such as fruit and veg, says Rum­sey. Sub­jects in the Cor­nell study who kept a bowl of fruit out in the open weighed an av­er­age of 13lbs less than those who didn’t.

DIET DIS­AS­TER ‘Healthy’ food la­bels

The words on a pack­age may have you eat­ing more. In a study at Penn­syl­va­nia State Univer­sity, US, sub­jects con­sumed more trail mix when the la­bel in­cluded the word ‘fit­ness’ and an im­age of run­ning shoes ver­sus trail mix with no claims. And re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Texas at Austin, US, found that peo­ple ate more pop­corn when they were told it was ‘healthy’ than when eat­ing pop­corn deemed ‘un­healthy’, de­spite the fact both

foods were nu­tri­tion­ally iden­ti­cal. And it’s not just fit­ness pack­ag­ing. Re­search has also found that shop­pers think foods la­beled ‘or­ganic’ are lower in calo­ries and higher in fi­bre, and that’s often not the case. Ad­di­tion­ally, confectionery bars in green pack­ages – a colour as­so­ci­ated with power foods such as kale and spinach – were viewed as health­ier op­tions. ‘Pack­age claims and health ha­los often cause peo­ple to eat too much, think­ing that since the food is healthy, it’s OK to eat a larger por­tion,’ says Rum­sey. ‘Un­for­tu­nately a lot of these foods, such as pro­tein bars, all-nat­u­ral or gluten-free snacks and trail mixes, are high in calo­ries. Eat­ing ex­tra por­tions can sab­o­tage your train­ing or weight-loss goals.’

THE FIX Don’t get drawn in by pack­ag­ing claims. Read the nu­tri­tion la­bel to de­ter­mine what prod­ucts have bet­ter in­gre­di­ents, such as whole grains and fi­bre. Peo­ple who read la­bels tend to weigh less than those who don’t. Prac­tise por­tion con­trol by mea­sur­ing items onto a plate based on serv­ing size. Us­ing a smaller dish will also pre­vent you from overeat­ing – it can cut your calo­ries by 30 per cent, says the Cor­nell Food and Brand Lab.

DIET DIS­AS­TER Pay­ing with credit cards

Us­ing plas­tic can de­rail your plan to get to your rac­ing weight. A study pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Con­sumer Re­search found that shop­pers tend to make at-the-check­out im­pulse pur­chases of less-nu­tri­tious foods such as sweets when they pay by card com­pared with those who hand over cash.

THE FIX Make a shop­ping list and stick to it. Bring cash, don’t even look at the good­ies by the cash till and have a healthy snack be­fore fill­ing your trol­ley or bas­ket. Shop­pers who ate an ap­ple be­fore their gro­cery run bought 25 per cent more fruit and veg­eta­bles than those who did not, ac­cord­ing to re­search from Cor­nell Univer­sity.

DIET DIS­AS­TER Dis­tracted din­ing

Healthy eat­ing isn’t just about what you eat; it’s also about how. Re­search from North­west­ern Univer­sity in Chicago, US, found that ex­po­sure to blue-en­riched light (such as that emit­ted by your smart­phone or lap­top screens) be­fore and dur­ing meals can in­crease hunger and could lead to overeat­ing. Look­ing at a screen in­stead of your plate may stim­u­late the re­gions of the brain that reg­u­late ap­petite. And UK re­searchers found that peo­ple who ate their lunch while play­ing a com­puter game ate more bis­cuits 30 min­utes later than those who ditched the elec­tron­ics.

But don’t rush your meal to get back to work. Stud­ies show that peo­ple who eat their meals quickly con­sume more calo­ries, feel hun­grier and are more likely to carry ex­tra weight. ‘When you eat while dis­tracted or shovel in your food, you’re less likely to no­tice sati­ety sig­nals,’ says sports di­eti­tian Molly Kim­ball. THE FIX Treat your gadgets like your el­bows and keep them off the ta­ble, take lunch breaks away from your desk, and don’t mul­ti­task dur­ing meals. Also, save your speed for the track: a study in Ap­petite found that peo­ple who chewed each bite for at least 30 sec­onds con­sumed fewer calo­ries two hours later than those who’d eaten quickly. You can trick your brain into think­ing you have more on your plate by cut­ting your food into small pieces, ac­cord­ing to a study at Ari­zona State Univer­sity.

Drop the cake! Desk­top din­ing can cause you to eat 10 per cent more calo­ries.

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