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SALT LAKE CITY — Diets don't work. The diet and supplement industry is a $30 billion industry, yet almost two-thirds of the U.S. population is overweight or obese.
When you're depriving yourself and anxiously awaiting the end of your diet, you're not setting yourself up for long-term healthy habits. All most people end up with frustration, guilt, shame, weight gain and other negative emotions. Maybe your diet failed you, not the other way around.
Instead of focusing on deprivation try to enjoy your food, eat smarter and release yourself from that guilt complex. Dr. Brian Wansink, an eating psychologist out of Cornell University, has spent his career exploring the causes of our overeating.
Here are five tips to facilitate weight loss without dieting. All based on Wansink's research and my few years of nutrition counseling experience.
1. Eat slowly
Savor your food, experience the food. You're accomplishing two goals by eating slowly. The first of which being a physiological goal. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get your intestine's "full signal." If you scarf down a pizza in five minutes, your body won't have a chance to react to all the food you're giving it. Second, you're actually tasting and "hopefully" enjoying the food. Part of our satisfaction from eating comes from the flavors of food, if you're eating so quickly or so mindlessly that you're not savoring your food, you're not going to be as satisfied as quickly.
2. Eat your veggies first
Vegetables are high in fiber and water, but are low in calories. The fiber and water will help fill you up without majorly denting your calorie bank. Eating these foods first will allow you to fill up on low-calorie foods and not feel as deprived of the meats and starches if you're already full.
3. Eat off of a smaller plate
This is one of Wansink's genius moments. Our minds trick us into thinking that more food on a bigger plate actually looks like less food on a smaller plate. Believe me, there's a huge connection between eating and our minds, don't let our minds confuse the situation. Wansink recommends a 8-inch plate to feel like you're getting enough, but not too much food (in general).
4. Add vegetables to "nearly" everything
Vegetables are mild flavored enough to be able to be added to nearly any dish. Making soup or pasta? Throw in a variety of frozen vegetables or that bag of green beans that is just on the cusp of going bad. Really, the possibilities are endless for adding vegetables to meals, although I can't wrap my head around veggies in oatmeal or pancakes. But let me know if you know delish veggie-containing pancakes!
5. Recognize why you're eating
Are you going to eat because you're hungry, bored, angry, exhausted, it's what you do when you're studying or writing? Eating to improve mood or when you're doing something else isn't really going to help you maintain or lose weight. Mindless eating can seriously affect your ability to lose weight. I mean the point of mindless eating is not paying attention to what or how much you're eating. Therefore, it's really easy to overeat when you're not paying attention.
Rebecca is a Registered Dietitian. She blogs over at betrulynourished.com, works at the University of Utah at a health and fitness testing facility, as a clinical inpatient hospital dietician, and is currently pursuing a Master's degree.