The Simplest Weight Loss Tips No One Follows (continued) by Will Brink
Tip # 3: eat off of smaller plates
The first two tips are common sense, this one is less so. However, I find it helps, albeit not to a great extent. Again, how much we eat is based on many variables. One of them is the visual cues we get looking at the food we are about to eat. We are extremely visually oriented creatures and part of deciding how large an object is must be compared to other objects, in this case, the food we put on the plate in comparison to the size of the plate we put the food on. Some of you may remember this little visual test from grade school.
Looking at these two horizontal lines below, which one is longer?
Answer: both lines are identical in length. As you can see, the bottom “plate” looks longer then top “plate”, yet they are the same length. It’s a visual illusion that shows how our brains are set up to interpret certain visual cues. It is my experience that people will put less food on their plate if they eat from smaller plates as a smaller plate full of food looks like much more to eat then a large plate with the same amount of food on it.
I know for myself I tend to put 2 slices of pizza on a small plate and three on a large plate! Now this is only one minor cue we have to self regulating how much food we eat, and other feedback loops (i.e., hormonal, psychological, etc.) can kick in and easily offset this strategy.
For example, you could simply come back for a second helping using the smaller plates. However, it’s my hunch (and it’s only a hunch as research is lacking here) that over the course of say a month, a person may end up taking in fewer total calories using this strategy as has been my (admittedly anecdotal) experience with both myself and the many people I have given advice to over the years.
Again, as already mentioned, taken alone, this strategy will probably have no effects on your efforts to lose fat if there is not a specific diet and exercise plan involved in the overall equation. It is however one simple small change that may improve compliancy to your efforts. It would be interesting to see a study on this, but whatever effects it may have, would be subtle and fairly small I suspect. Even so, over the course of a year say, it may help.
Tip #4: Know Thy Self
Lesson here is, we are all human and we all have our weaknesses. Trick is to know your weakness and develop strategies for coping with them. How well do you know yourself? That is, do you know what cues/triggers tend to set you off? Have you examined that issue for yourself? It’s essential to recognized the cues that sabotage your efforts. We all have them. Find yours and take steps to avoid them where possible.
For example, try making a list outlining the things you know tend to set you off and how you react to the, then add a column for how you could deal with it. For example you might write “talking to my crazy mother makes me anxious and I eat things I shouldn’t immediately after the phone conversation” which would be followed by a suggestion of steps to change it, such as “always eat a meal right before talking to mom” and “only take calls from mom when I am ready and able to deal with her” and “go for a walk immediately after talking to mom to distress and give me time to get over impulse to eat junk” and so on.
Develop coping strategies to your known triggers. I know for example going food shopping on an empty stomach means I will most probably end up with a large box of Cheez-it’s in my house. I have also found if I go shopping irritated over something I will buy more foods I don’t need as food is one of many ways we self medicate looking for some comfort. Hence the term “comfort foods” which is commonly chocolate, ice cream, and so on.
- Learn what your hot buttons are that lead to a negative behavior
- Learn to identify when it’s happening
- Develop strategies for coping with it.
How do you go about doing that? As entire books have been written on that topic, my advice will fall short here. That journey is also highly individual. For some it’s working with a therapist or behavioral specialist, for some it’s reading a few good self-help type books, and for some it’s activities such as meditation, joining support groups, and others. It’s also a life long journey.
Conclusion – The purpose of this article is not as much to supply tips for success in your fat loss endeavors but to actually remind people of what is stated in the intro to this article: most people fail in their fat loss/diet goals not due to a single mistake they are making (with exceptions) but many small events that have an accumulated effect that sabotages their efforts. If the tips in this article help, all the better.
Some people are amazed how many extra calories slip into their diet from snack foods that they are not accounting for, or the fact they tend to take the elevator when they could take the stairs, and so on. 99 out of 100 times the person that says “I have tried everything and nothing works” actually translates into “I have not stayed on any one plan long enough for it to have an effect and sabotaged it with small unaccounted for negative habits and behaviors.” Now, if I can just get the funding for that adult Cheez-it rehab center I want to have built.
* Cheez-It’s are a cheese flavored cracker made by Sunshine foods and can be found on the shelves of any major food store in the US.
Will Brink is a well known medical, fitness, and health writer for a variety of publications. He graduated from Harvard University with a degree in the natural sciences, and is a regular guest on national radio shows and a speaker at various conventions around the US. His articles on such topics as cancer, AIDS, weight loss, fitness, and health can be found in the Life Extension Magazine as well as other related publications.
He is also a consultant to major supplement companies, and regularly co authors articles with different researchers from around the world. He is most noted for his articles and work with whey proteins and essential fatty acids in athletics and the treatment and prevention of various diseases.