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Three Scientific Hacks to Healthy Eating with Little Effort

Three Scientific Hacks to Healthy Eating with Little Effort

The first most common new year resolution everyone set is usually about his or her career. Everyone hopes and wants to do better in a new year compared to the previous – to get promoted, to close bigger clients, to grow your brand further, and to double or triple your income.

And I bet the second most common goal of many is to improve their health or to lose weight. In fact, these are simple goals to describe but difficult feats to pull off for many.

We all know in order to lose weight, we should take a closer look and better control of our diet- eat more greens, less processed foods, more fruits, fewer desserts – alright, you don’t need me to repeat these. It’s clear that we all know what to do, but…

How to do it? Making it simpler? Making it easier? And making it more effective?

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Make Good Use of the Optical Illusion

The Delboeuf illusion has long been known to cause us to misjudge the size of identical circles when they are surrounded by larger circles of varying sizes. The more “white space” around the circle, the smaller it appears.

Research[1] done by Professors Brian Wansink and Koert van Ittersum explored how a well-established optical illusion leads us to make inaccurate estimates of serving size, depending on what size plate they are presented on.

For example, research was conducted in a fitness camp where campers who were given a larger bowl tended to consume 16% more cereal than other campers who had a smaller bowl. However, campers with larger bowls perceived they consumed 7% less cereal than other campers, despite the fact that they were eating more.[2]

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use smaller plate

    What can we do to combat this powerful effect? Simply being aware of the effects of the Delboeuf illusion may not be enough to overcome it.

    The best solution to change our eating behavior is to design our environment by replacing the plates and bowls we’re using. We can take advantage of this visual “trick” by manipulating the plates we use to serve various foods. Healthy foods such as fresh vegetables and fruits should be served in larger plates to encourage consumption, while less healthy foods should be served on smaller plates to trick ourselves into feeling satisfied with less.

    By using a smaller plate, we trick ourselves that we have enough, which helps us to break the habit of overeating. At the same time, it will also help you to reduce a significant amount of food wastage since you will never make or serve more food than you can finish.

    Adjust the Triggers

    Habits form in a loop called the habit formation cycle. It starts with a trigger, then the routine – any good or bad habit – and finally the reward.

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    Most rewards for the unhealthy eating pattern such as overeating and poor food choice are heavily tied to the satisfaction of our taste buds. We love the taste and we crave it, and that’s why we keep repeating the habit loop of the bad eating pattern.

    get rid of the triggers

      But wait a minute?

      The best way to break a bad habit is by substituting a new routine to the habit loop. However, it’s hard for us to switch from eating chips and crackers to healthy salads and green juice. The alternative solution to break the habit loop is by reducing our exposure to the triggers. And the most common trigger of the bad eating pattern is the visual of the food. In other words, we usually only crave for unhealthy foods when we see them.

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      The best solution: make unhealthy invisible and healthy food obvious.

      • Never shop around or nearby the snack counters; spend more time around the vegetables and fruits areas.
      • Keep your snacks in a closed cabinet, or even better, don’t buy them.
      • Wrap processed foods, cakes, pizzas using the aluminum foil and wrap vegetables, fruits and lean meats using transparent wrapping sheet when keeping them in your refrigerator.

      Lifestyle Change Instead of Diet Change

      One of the core factors why most people fail to lose fat is they see it as a one-time event. When you search for fat loss tips online, most articles you see is about how much fat or weight someone loses in a certain period – usually short – of time. Then, everyone is fired up about what this person ate or what program he/she followed during that period of time to achieve that.

      However, losing weight is not a one-time event; it’s not a sprint race. There is no one magical program, solution, food, or supplement that turns everything around – poor eating habits, lack of movement, bad sleeping routine – and helps you lose weight instantly.

      Healthy eating habits (lifestyle change) > Fat-loss diet (temporary plan)

      When approaching our diet – maybe we should stop calling it diet, instead, our eating plan, we should all aim for a lifestyle change rather than the food choice constraints and diet rules. Define yourself as a healthy person; start adjusting your eating habits and behaviors to achieve optimal physical health for the long run.

      What is the best way to achieve this? Change your environment to change your behavior.

      Reference

      More by this author

      Dean Yeong

      Dean writes about behavioral psychology and performance improvement.

      what to read next What to Read Next? 30 Inspiring Books That Will Expand Your Mind 7 Best Ways of Learning Effectively Three Scientific Hacks to Healthy Eating with Little Effort 6 Counter-intuitive Methods to Make Your Life Better that No One Talks About

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      Last Updated on March 25, 2020

      How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

      How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

      When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

      So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

      1. Exercise

      It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

      2. Drink in Moderation

      I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

      3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

      Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

      4. Watch Less Television

      A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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      Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

      5. Eat Less Red Meat

      Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

      If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

      6. Don’t Smoke

      This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

      7. Socialize

      Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

      8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

      Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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      9. Be Optimistic

      Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

      10. Own a Pet

      Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

      11. Drink Coffee

      Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

      12. Eat Less

      Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

      13. Meditate

      Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

      Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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      How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

      14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

      Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

      15. Laugh Often

      Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

      16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

      Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

      17. Cook Your Own Food

      When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

      Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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      18. Eat Mushrooms

      Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

      19. Floss

      Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

      20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

      Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

      Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

      21. Have Sex

      Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

      More Health Tips

      Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

      Reference

      [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
      [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
      [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
      [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
      [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
      [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
      [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
      [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
      [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
      [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
      [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
      [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
      [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
      [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
      [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
      [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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