Take a picture of your meals to help you eat better and lose weight


When researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison asked dieters to both keep a written food journal and to photograph their meals, they found something interesting. The photos were better tools than the diaries when it came to encouraging participants to select healthier meals, and they were more effective at helping people remember if they had overindulged in snacks.

According to the Telegraph:

Prof Lydia Zepeda and David Deal, the researchers who carried out the study reported in New Scientist magazine, found that written food diaries were often filled in hours after the meal and were not as powerful in creating an impression of how much food had been consumed.

“Nutritionists see diaries as recording tools. Now they should explore the role of photo diaries as intervention tools,” Prof Zepeda said.

Since all you weight hackers probably have easy-to-use cameras built into your phones, try snapping pics of all your meals to help you eat better and lose weight. And I do mean all your meals, not just the fancy ones you’re already putting on Instagram. If you don’t take a picture of everything, you’re more likely to “forget” you ate it.

Also, if you’re an iPhone user, check out The Eatery app by Massive Health. It’s a free, elegant way to take pictures of your meals, rate them, then share them with your friends. In an interesting twist, The Eatery also lets other users rate your meals anonymously, so you’ll get a crowdsourced view of how healthy your meals are. If that seems a little intimidating, just remember, you get to rate their meals too.

Posted December 12, 2012 @ 9:30 am | Tags: ,,,

How paying more attention to your food can help you eat less

Pay Attention

If you’re trying to eat less food to lose weight but are having a hard time feeling satisfied, a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research has some simple advice for you:  pay attention to what you’re eating. According to Science Daily:

In a series of studies, the authors (Joseph P. Redden and Kelly L. Haws) found that consumers who successfully control their diets eat fewer unhealthy foods because they are satisfied sooner. They also found that many consumers with poor self-control were able to establish greater control when they paid close attention to the quantities of unhealthy foods they consumed because simply paying attention made them more quickly satisfied.

In one interesting study, a group of consumers were asked to eat either a healthy or an unhealthy snack. Some of the consumers were asked to count how many times they swallowed while eating the snack. Consumers who counted the number of times they swallowed were satisfied more quickly even if they otherwise had a low level of self-control. Monitoring how much they ate made consumers with low self-control behave like those with high self-control.

Another intriguing finding of the study was that you don’t have to pay attention to how much healthy food you’re eating, which could inadvertently end up making you eat less of the good stuff you’re trying to get into your diet. (And by good stuff I don’t mean things like low-fat cookies, which are still a junk food, but rather things like fruits, greens and other healthy whole foods.)

Posted September 13, 2012 @ 9:00 am | Tags: ,,

‘Anti-hunger ingredient’ could help you eat less but feel full

SATISFIT-LTG, a new version of a chemical food additive called methyl cellulose, can be dissolved in cold water to create a thick solution that turns into a gel when heated. It was recently tested as an “anti-hunger ingredient” that could be added to foods like yogurt and smoothies to make them more filling and satisfying.

Carsten Huettermann, Ph.D., works for Dow Wolff Cellulosics, the company that makes SATISFIT-LTG. According to Medical News Today he discussed the trial results at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society:

“This ingredient would make people feel full after eating smaller amounts of food,” Huettermann explained. “With that sense of fullness and hunger-satisfaction, they would not crave more food. In our first study, we saw that fewer calories were consumed at the following meal after eating our new product. Our next step now is to investigate in further studies the mechanism of action and whether this may have an impact on weight management.”

I’m not a huge fan of adding chemicals to food, but the concept of an anti-hunger ingredient is an interesting one. You can achieve the same results naturally by adding more fiber to your diet, which I do every day by putting 2 teaspoons of ground flax seed in my oatmeal (make sure you grind the flax as your body can’t digest the whole seeds). I also sometimes dissolve chia seeds in my drinks, which also form a thick gel that makes you feel more full. As a bonus, chia seeds  have great anti-oxidants in them.

If you’re wondering, Wikipedia tells us that “Methyl cellulose (or methylcellulose) is a chemical compound derived from cellulose. It is ahydrophilic white powder in pure form and dissolves in cold (but not in hot) water, forming a clear viscous solution or gel. It is sold under a variety of trade names and is used as a thickener and emulsifier in various food and cosmetic products, and also as a treatment ofconstipation. Like cellulose, it is not digestible, not toxic, and not an allergen.”

Um, I think I’ll stick with flax and chia seeds :)

Posted August 23, 2012 @ 5:03 pm | Tags: ,,,,

Trick yourself into eating less by cutting up food into smaller pieces

Cutting your food into smaller pieces can trick you into eating less while making you feel more full, according to researchers at Arizona State University. In separate studies with rats and humans they found that “multiple pieces of food are more rewarding than an equicaloric single piece of food in both animals and humans.” Here’s what they think is going on:

Both humans and animals use number as a cue to judge quantities of food, with larger numbers usually associated with larger quantities. Therefore, a food portion cut into multiple, bite-sized pieces may perceptually look [like] more and therefore elicit greater satiation than the same portion presented as a single, large piece.

In the study involving humans, researchers gave 301 college students a bagel weighing 82g. Half of the students were given a solid bagel while the other half were given a bagel that had been cut into quarters. Twenty minutes after eating their bagels, both sets of students were then given a complimentary lunch and allowed to eat as much as they wanted.

Not only did the students who received the whole bagel consume more lunch calories than the other students, they also ate more of the bagel than their counterparts did. Devina Wadhera, the lead author of the study, concludes that “cutting up energy-dense meal foods into smaller pieces may be beneficial to dieters who wish to make their meal more satiating while also maintaining portion control.”

Posted August 21, 2012 @ 10:30 am | Tags: ,,

Buying cheap food may be making you fat. Here’s why.

A study by the University of Washington that looked at the proximity of supermarkets compared to rates of obesity turned up an interesting finding: people who shop at lower-price grocery stores have higher rates of obesity than those who shop at more expensive stores. And that was true even after adjusting for the education and income levels of the patrons:

The type of supermarket, by price, was found to be inversely and significantly associated with obesity rates, even after adjusting for individual-level sociodemographic and lifestyle variables, and proximity measures.

The price of food is something weighthackers should always be aware of. Why? In general, heavily processed foods have fewer nutrients but more calories than whole foods and tend to cost less. That’s not a coincidence. The processing is what gives them a longer shelf life and makes them easier to package, which is great for the profits of food manufacturers. It’s also terrible for your health.

So the pennies you’re saving buying the cheap stuff could be turning into extra pounds around your waist line. “Buyer beware” indeed.

(Luckily if you read Weighthacker you know that eating healthy foods can actually cost less than unhealthy ones.)


Posted June 21, 2012 @ 8:35 am | Tags: ,,

Augmented reality ‘cookie goggles’ trick you into eating less

Tokyo University professor Michitaka Hirose created a sophisticated pair of augmented reality glasses that makes food portions appear larger than they actually are. Because people wearing the glasses think they’re eating more food, they actually eat less of it. The reverse is also true:

On one device, goggle-mounted cameras send images to a computer, which magnifies the apparent size of the cookie in the image it displays to the wearer while keeping his hand the same size, making the snack appear larger than it actually is.

In experiments, volunteers consumed nearly 10 percent less when the biscuits they were eating appeared 50 percent bigger.

They ate 15 percent more when cookies were manipulated to look two-thirds of their real size.

Practically speaking I’m not sure this will become a “thing,” but it does illustrate like the Delboeuf Illusion that we can help control our portions with simple food hacks and modifications to the environment. For instance, eating from smaller plates makes portions appear bigger. And adding garnishes that take up a lot of room but actually have few calories, like lettuce, can make our brains think we’re eating more food than we actually are.

(from The Telegraph)

Posted June 7, 2012 @ 10:43 am | Tags: ,,

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