Mindfully eating less - losing weight without thinking about it.

Given the recent drive from the Government to get people to eat less and eat better I thought I’d talk through a few ideas which can lower the amount of food you tend to eat without even thinking about it.

Once you’ve thought about it.

Also, there’s a few items in here which can show you why you might be eating more than you need without even thinking about it.

DON’T DRINK CALORIES

Because fluids don’t fill us up as much as real food drinking calories especially those with sugar or fructose in there won’t shut down hunger centres — making drinking calories an easy way to over consume overall calories.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT PLATE

The first and weird thing is if your food is the same colour as your plate, think pasta on a white plate you’ll tend to eat more of it. If you eat pasta on a black plate you’ll eat up to 22% less according to one study. Although this isn’t cut and dry is does appear that when there’s more apparent food on the plate via contrast we’ll unconsciously eat less cause we can see more.

On the flip side as James Clear mentions if you want to eat more greens then maybe a green plate would help you just like a white plate helps you eat more pasta.

LEAVE SOMETHING BEHIND

Or more specifically eat something which leaves something behind as evidence it’s been eaten….

In a similar vein when eating foods which create debris, e.g. chicken legs. Piling up the legs on the table (so you can see how many you’ve eaten) or chicken wings made the participants eat less 5.5 wing vs 7 if the wings debris was removed.

I guess you can also use prawns which you gotta peal the nice large ones, or artichokes with the leaves on which you dip into salad dressing as 2 other examples of foods which require some processing and leave behind some evidence of consumption. Lobster too would fit this category. Interestingly if you are trying to drink less booze longer, taller glasses also appear to help……

You could serve a whole chicken on the table and carve in front of everyone too.

Pistachio’s with the shells on are another way to slightly increase the cost to calorie ratio, and keeping the shells nearby could have the same effect as the chicken wings piling up study…

Portion Control = size and colour of your plate. Taller glasses also help. Choose some foods with a visual cue they’ve been consumed left behind.

Rugby players. Eat more to stay hench. Back in the day if an England player was going out to dinner, we’d have them eat 2–3 chicken breasts and green veggies before the meal. That way they’d be much more relaxed about the meal knowing they’d got the good bits they need for recovery, then they could pick and choose their way through the meagre portions most fancy restaurants dish up.

Meant they were much more relaxed with their wife’s too.

Pre-loading is often done before going out drinking as pubs are so damn expensive these days even when we were all going out to them before lockdown. This is generally a bad idea — although it does save money if your mission is to go and get pissed.

Pre-loading the right foods can really help with subsequent choices and calorie consumption.

Most people in the real world need to eat much less though. Appetite is one of the key drivers for how much you’ll eat in a meal. If you can take the edge off appetite, you’ll likely eat less later on.

Drinking water, taking a soup or eating raw veggies or all 3 before a meal can really reduce how much you consume afterwards.

PRE-LOADING THE RIGHT WAY

What can we eat before a meal to take the edge off our appetite which reducing the overall calorie intake from the pre-loader meal and the actual meal.

When breaking an all-day fast, appetite can be a real killer. Taking a soup Pre-loader and eating foods in a certain order can really help reduce the amount of sugar entering the blood from your food — this glycaemic regulation and disposal is one of the core principles of keeping well for longer. Walking after a meal reduces your blood glucose levels nicely. As does eating raw vegetables earlier in the meal, followed by protein then followed by cooked veggies and then finally starches.

Taking a high fibre shake in the morning can pre-load your day. This was sometimes called the second meal effect whereby a higher fibre meal blunts the subsequent glycemic response from a higher sugar meal afterwards.

Blunting the amount and rate of sugar entering the blood is generally a good idea for the most people. It gives you longer to feel full before eating too many calories and also reduces the amount of insulin you’ll potentially release in response to your meal.

STOP EATING WHEN YOU FEEL MORE THIRSTY THAN HUNGRY

Maintaining hydration is really a key stone habit for many reasons.

Anecdotally taking care to stop eating when you feel more thirsty than hungry may also be a good idea. Staying hydrated is important people with high BMI’s are often more dehydrated than people with lower BMIs. This maybe because they mistake thirst for hunger eating when they should be drinking water — not calories.

So which types of meal are good choices? Well Tapas ticks a few boxes as it’s;

1. Served on small plates, often with contrasting colours –

2. You can order according to macro ratios, e.g. more protein and vegetable dishes.

3. You can under order and then top up if you are still hungry and finally

4. Hopefully talking more and eating less will be the order of the day.

Although Tapas does break a couple of eating less rules, those are variety — the more you variety you have in front of you the more you eat and eating in groups often means people will eat and drink more. The key is making sure the entire menu isn’t ordered all at once!

Spanish Live Longer & have a bit more nooky than we do….so maybe Tapas is the way forwards……and siesta, and sunshine…..and Mediterranean food. Maybe we just need to slow down a bit.

SUPER SIZE ME…

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(really a good article this one)

Smaller packaging vs family sized…..

Other studies show larger available portions e.g. family sized bags of crisps and M and M’s result in greater portions and thereby consumption. Buying smaller bags means each time you open a new bag it’s a conscious choice. Smaller bags = smaller portions = less calories.

But really if they are serving you 4 x the portions from the 1950’s is it surprising we’re probably carrying 4 x the body fat?

A LINE IN THE PRINGLE SAND

Red pringles……….one study showed that by colouring a pringle red every few pringles less total pringles were consumed. Somehow a line in the pringle sand offered a more conscious aspects to ‘once you pop you just can’t stop’ oh a red one…. How weird.

Interestingly the shape of the pringle is designed to deliver all the flavour enhancers MSG etc, salt and sweetness of the starches all in one hit, covering the entire tongue and flooding the brain with dopamine reward and taste sensation signals. The primary mechanism of making fast foods and food in general difficult to stop eating is to combine, sugar, fat and salt all in one mouthful.

These foods would have been scarce and cherished for their high calorie value.

Hedonic hunger is the phrase adopted by scientists for the presence of extreme hunger in the absence of any calorie need. These foods and processed foods also result in increased hedonic hunger with up to +500 calories being consumed when compared to regular consumption of whole foods.

Hedonic hunger might be related to inflammation of the hypothalamus — another reason to use fish oils and anti-inflammatory herbs regularly in your daily rituals.

TOO MUCH VARIETY + CHOICE, WWII & THE CLEAN PLATE CLUB + THE ONE PLATE CLUB

Variety = buffet eating is another known trigger for larger portions and calorie consumption.

Give people 14 different coloured M and M’s and they’ll eat more than when you give them 7 different coloured M and M’s even when they are all made to taste the same.

You just wanna try a little bit of everything don’t ya?

Ditch the clean plate club……join the 1 plate club.

Many of us grew up in larger families where if you didn’t eat fast and finish up what was on your plate you’d go without and not get second helpings. Hell, the food might have even been grabbed from your plate if you were too slow.

If you eat too fast hunger won’t kick in to slow you down — more on this below…

Additionally, the older generation knew the value of food as they’d had to have lived through rationing. Making eating everything up, including the fattier cuts on meats a necessity. You bet they were all much leaner than our present-day population.

I remember sitting there until all the gristle was munched from pork chops. My Grandpa didn’t like waste and he was a WWII vet so……. I was there for a long time.

Right now, I really don’t believe in wasting food — it’s a pet hate. But if you are full then there’s no need to keep on eating. Pop it back in the fridge for a snack or frittata the following day. Give it to your dogs or cats if they are not too fussy.

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We’ve got a global obesity pandemic, we’ve got a global Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve got global shortage in vitamin D intake / sun exposure. Adverse outcomes to Covid-19 virus is linked to obesity and to low levels of vitamin D.

Join the 1 plate club — this club involves taking 1 (smaller) plate or bowl and then not going back for seconds afterwards. This way you can build your plate with lots of tasty nutritious food, eat it slowly and try not to go back for another portion.

Welcome to the 1 plate club people…..

SKILL OVER WILL

The nearness of foods and food triggers are 2 other factors which can lead to increased calorie consumption.

Keeping the right foods around you and the wrong foods further away from you is also an easy way to make good choices easier than poor choices. Even keeping leaner friends generally will result in you ending up leaner. Peer pressure and the habits of those around you clearly influences our own behaviours. You can take the mantle and adjust your own habits and be an inspiration to your inner circle too.

I’m not saying ditch your fat friends, I’m saying get lean together. Stay lean together.

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Creating an inner circle of trust and likeminded people who can help support you is a massive step in the right direction for losing a few pounds and getting healthier.

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Go ahead come inside the circle of trust. We can get to know you, get to support you, respect your goals and progress and then help you maintain and protect your newfound behaviours.

CREATE AN EASY ENVIRONEMENT TO MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES

The age-old rule if it ends up back in your kitchen someone will end up eating it is never so true. Try not to go shopping hungry. Plan your meals = less waste and less poor food choices available = win + win.

Houses where you can see bowls of fruit over packets of cereal are also generally leaner than the cereal eating, cereal availability houses. Of course, you can’t just buy a big bowl of fruit and expect to get lean you got to adopt all the non-cereal eating people’s other habits too!

The nearness and food triggers are also 2 other ways we can be encouraged to eat more.

Food triggers can be a biscuit tin in the kitchen, adverts or the last few aisles at the supermarket. All of them do this and how many times you just popped a little snack into your bag — cause you deserve it…..of course you do. Deliveroo, here we come.

Supermarket Check Out Foods…

Removing these foods from the check-out has supposedly been a policy in the making for 10+ years it really does work;

They found that removing the unhealthy snacks from the checkout was associated with an immediate 17% reduction in purchases. After a year, shoppers were still purchasing 15% fewer of the items compared with when no policy was in place.

TWO ‘SECRETS’ FOR EATING LESS

Mindful eating — being distracted, e.g. watching a film means you’ll generally snack more, the longer the film the more you’ll eat. So, eating whilst being distracted isn’t a good idea for portion control.

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Remember the think before you drink before you drive?

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Maybe we need a think before you eat and get fat campaign…

HIGH FIBRE HIGH VOLUME FOODS

Here’s probably the No1 tip for helping hungry people get lean and stay lean. Fill them up on high fibre high volume foods…

Hunger can be retrained; hunger signals can be removed, and planning can be put in place for the right choices being readily available.

However, enjoying wonderful vegetables, salads and Mediterranean — blue zone wholefoods. Means we can both enjoy, nourish and never feel over full. Through eating highly nutritious high fibre low calorie vegetables and salads.

Following another longevity habit of leaving yourself 80% full of a meal also has likely impacts on post prandial blood glucose levels and of course total calorie intake.

Eating slowly and mindfully is one of the easiest ways to achieve an 80% full feeling.

Volume = fibre rich energy spare foods — this can also be a milk shake which is blizted to increase the amount of air on the shake, adding ice or of course adding some chia seeds adds real fibre but the air does increase fullness for a while after consumption.

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Food on show and too much food in the kitchen…..piling up the chicken bones on the table also helps……

  • Get the right food in without stockpiling.
  • Think before you eat.
  • Plan your weekly meals.
  • Listen to hunger signals. Wait until you are really hungry before eating BUT;
  • Pre-load with soup, crudities and a large glass of fizzy water + lemon juice.
  • Eating alone often means you won’t eat as well. However, eating with lots of people might mean you eat better, but you’ll likely eat more.

Join our club — come inside the inner circle and enjoy the support of getting lean and staying lean together.

Cheers, Matt

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