We know that our diet and our mental state are tied closely together. People talk about stress eating and comfort foods while generations of parents have warned “you are what you eat.” But, just how deep does this connection go? New research shows how your mindset before and during the meal can affect your health and even, more excitingly, your weight.
How do you eat an Oreo? Do you always eat a lobster in the same order? Or do you fold your pizza in half before digging in? These little pre-meal rituals, that you may not even be aware you have, could play a key role in your weight loss goals.
Often, the problem with any diet is that you don’t enjoy or look forward to your meals. This can leave you feeling unsatisfied and make it more difficult for you to stick to your plan. Interestingly, a study published in the online journal Psychological Science explored the role that those rituals play in your deeper psychological processes.
Through a series of four different experiments, the researchers discovered that doing something simple but systematic had the power to heighten the entire eating experience. The study used lemonade, baby carrots and chocolate bars but regardless of what the food was, it was rated as more enjoyable when attached to a ritual.
Does this mean you have to dream up something to do before every meal? Thankfully, now. It’s important to note that the actions were not random; they were deliberate and planned. The researchers noted that even opening an bottle of wine, including cutting the foil and removing the cork, all count. One of the experiments even involved simply making a glass of lemonade. This brings something powerful and practical to the fore: Preparing your own meal boosts your enjoyment of it.
Why would this help you lose weight? Because when you learn to enjoy healthy foods, like baby carrots, you can retrain your eating habits and build a lasting healthy lifestyle.
Slow Down and Savor the Moments
People, in general, tend to eat quickly. They’re in a constant hurry and meals have commonly been shortened into something more like an extended snack that’s wolfed down between one errand and the next.
This could be a major contributor to the rampant struggle with obesity, for many reasons. For one thing, people are generally more likely to grab the first thing available to them when their busy. Usually, this involves buying something out like fast food with little thought as to the actual nutritional value of the meal.
The almost compulsive act of eating while in a rush usually involves stress, as well. And stress makes you crave foods your might normally avoid.
Slowing down to savor your meals, however, seems to have the opposite effect. Of course, there’s the benefits of making better choices but studies have also shown something a little more unexpected: chewing your food thoroughly helps you lose weight.
There could be several things are work here. The researchers who worked on the study noticed that the subjects who chewed more, 40 times per by to be exact, had lower levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite. One theory put forth in the study is that the increased number of chews lead to more nutrients being released, which, in turn, increased levels of satisfaction.
However it works, there’s solid reason to slow down for your meals.