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Can you really trick your brain into healthy eating?

Text: Staff; Photography: People Images

December 7, 2016

Can you really trick your brain into healthy eating?Do you snack without realising? Or guzzle your food? We do on most days. But studies, including research from Professor Charles Spence of the University of Oxford, show that simple mind tricks can help us develop healthy eating habits. “Mindful eating is recognising the differences between physical hunger and ‘head hunger’,” adds dietitian Laura Clark. But will these tricks stop us raiding the fridge? GLAMOUR finds out…

1 Conscious eating

The trick: Turn off the TV and watch what you eat instead.

Why? Research from the University of Birmingham shows we eat up to 25% more when not focusing on our food. “Eating with distraction or speed means we don’t allow the appetite centre in our brain to recognise that we’re eating,” explains Clark.
Our verdict: We often wonder where entire bags of crisps have gone while watching Netflix. So we turned it off while snacking and were soon rationing ourselves, eating less than a third of a bag before virtuously returning it to the kitchen. We’re basically modern-day saints. 3/5

Related: 5 ‘Lazy-proof’ tips for effective weight loss

2 Sensory eating

The trick: Eat with all your senses – savouring smell, taste and texture.

Why? “Feeling your food as you add each ingredient, smelling it and tasting it, helps you to appreciate it more,” says Alice Mackintosh, nutritional therapist and co-founder of supplement company Equi London.

Our verdict: This worked, Nigella-style, while cooking. A sniff of lemon zest here, a nose in a pan there. Not so good when you’re plunging your nose into a tub of reduced fat hummus, though. However, it does make you think harder about the quality of what you eat. 2/5

Related: 3 Things you should never eat for breakfast

3 Complex eating

The trick: Eat with your non-dominant hand or even chopsticks.

Why? “The easier it is to ingest food, the more we consume, so the idea is to make it more difficult to eat so we slow down,” says Professor Spence. It allows the brain to receive messages – like ‘feeling full’ – from the stomach.

Our verdict: Have you ever eaten spaghetti with chopsticks? Joyless and, after a week, most of our clothes were stained. “There are better ways to create ‘pause points’,” says Clark. “Put your cutlery down between mouthfuls and have sips of water, and don’t load your next forkful until your mouth is empty.” This is much easier, and surprisingly, we enjoyed our food more. 1/5

Related: So, what’s so super about superfoods?

4 Distraction eating

The trick: Beat food cravings by checking emails or phoning your mum.

Why? “A sense of craving for food has very little to do with hunger,” says Professor Jane Ogden from the University of Surrey. “This generates a sense of ‘must have’, but it doesn’t last, and any form of distraction will break the association.”

Our verdict: This is a good one, especially when in the presence of the office biscuit tin. Instead of giving in to our cookie craving, we hit Instagram and within a few minutes, we’d forgotten about it. 4/5

Related: 5 Tips for healthy eating in the workplace

Taken from GLAMOUR UK. Click here to read the original.

Suffer from hanger? Find out what causes it here. Then read these explanations for why you’re always hungry.

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