What causes a person to lose or gain weight is not always a straightforward matter.
Not only is everyone’s physiology unique, there can be differences in how the body reacts to a calorie, depending on its source and the nutritional content of the food. But in its most simplistic terms, the best way to lose weight is to eat a little less.
People tend to go about this by counting calories, which has been shown in numerous studies to be detrimental to long term weight loss.
This is because humans are psychologically hardwired to respond negatively to restriction and deprivation, so while a person may initially lose a few pounds, their willpower will eventually start to wane.
Fortunately, the brain is easily fooled when it comes to hunger and satiety.
Here are some tried and tested psychological principles for eating less without the feeling of deprivation…
Use Smaller Dinnerware
Piling 20% less food onto your plate at each meal will reduce your calorie intake sufficiently to yield slow and steady weight loss.
However, the flaw with this is that most people end up feeling like they have not eaten a satisfying meal. This raises the risk of snacking later in the day.
The perception that you haven’t had a decent meal is, in all likelihood, false.
One of the reasons why many countries are facing an obesity epidemic is that most people are poor judges of what a healthy portion size is.
So although a meal may contain all of the nutrients and calories you need, your brain sees the empty space on the plate and assumes it is not enough.
The solution to this is to simply use a smaller plate or bowl when serving your meals.
A meal will look comparatively larger on a ten inch plate in contrast to a twelve inch plate, so your brain receives a signal that you are eating a hearty portion.
This effect has been demonstrated time and time again in psychological tests. In fact, reducing the size of the plate by just a couple of inches has been shown to reduce calorie consumption by up to a quarter.
Use A Tall Glass
But what about beverages?
When it comes to gaining unwanted pounds, the biggest culprit for many people is what they are drinking rather than what they are eating.
This is particularly true for people who enjoy alcohol or sodas, but the hidden calories in a drink mean that anything more calorific than water can be hindering your weight loss.
Even green smoothies are fattening if you are drinking enough of them…remember that anything in excess can be detrimental to you health!
As with food, an easy solution lies in how the brain judges quantity.
Just changing the glass you are using can help you to drink a little less of your favorite alcoholic beverage, without feeling like you are depriving yourself.
When it comes to equal volumes, a tall glass will look like it contains more liquid than a shorter, fatter one. Therefore, swapping your existing glasses for taller, slimmer glassware will mean that you automatically drink less without really noticing the difference.
Switch Off The Electronic Entertainment
Over half of all families admit to eating the majority of their meals in front of the television, or while using a tablet.
I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t do the same!
However this is very bad for weight loss, because the less mindful you are of what you are eating; the more food you are likely to consume.
People who are distracted while they eat tend to consume 25% more.
This is partly because they are likely to eat faster, which allows them to consume more before their brain signals that they are satiated.
But researchers have found that distracted eaters also find it more difficult to recall how much they have eaten, which makes it more likely that they will choose to eat more at their next meal.
For effective weight loss, it is recommended that you switch off the television and all other forms of electronic entertainment. Eating at a table and taking the time to chew each mouthful properly will drastically reduce the likelihood of over indulgence.
Many people find losing excess pounds relatively easy, but keeping the weight off extremely challenging.
This is because humans have a limited supply of willpower, and feeling deprived makes it more difficult to keep up weight loss efforts.
However, it is simple to change our brain’s perception of how much we are eating, which can greatly help with reaching – and maintaining – a healthy weight.