How many times have you said, “I need to start eating healthier”? The goal towards eating a healthier diet is one of the most sought after new year resolutions; but how many times have you promised yourself that this will be the year that you will truly make a change to your diet? Renewed the gym membership, check. Found the new trending diet, check. However, the moment we start getting busy again, our gym visits start to drop, and we end up getting deliveries from our favourite pizza place more often. Slowly, our old habits start creeping back in. Restricting diets that emphasise on calorie deprivation may not be the best approach as although they may help you lose weight quickly, it is very common for many people to gain that weight back quite quickly too (Benton & Young, 2017).
After days or even weeks of constantly being hungry, it is more likely for you to relapse and binge food.aA healthy diet requires balance, variety, and moderation of food. Dr Aner Tal, a consumer psychologist, states that it is more effective to adapt the environment around you rather than relying on your willpower to reach unrealistic goals. He came up with a few tips to trick ourselves to eating healthier;
- Eat in a smaller plate
If you had to place the same amount of food in a smaller plate and in a larger plate, you will realise that you will feel fuller after eating from the smaller plate. The larger plate will look emptier, and the smaller plate will look fuller, tricking yourself into thinking you have eaten more.
2. Cut your food into small pieces
The more pieces of food you have in your plate, the more food you will appear to have. For example, if you’re going to eat an apple, you can try cutting it up into pieces. This tricks your mind into thinking there is more food on the plate. Cutting-up your food into smaller pieces also makes you eat slower which results to feeling full faster.
We humans like convenience. Try placing healthy snacks at eye level in your fridge, like fruit or healthy bars. At work, keep snacks like nuts or dried berries close to you on your desk. There is a higher chance that you will snack on the almonds in your desk drawer rather than the birthday in the office fridge. You can also try preparing all your meals for the week on Sundays, so that you can have healthy meals ready when you are on the go, rather than buying ready-made foods or ordering takeaway. Although it might take some time, meal-prepping dishes will not only lead to a healthier diet, but will also be cheaper in the long run.
4. Avoid eating while watching TV
Have you ever finished your popcorn during the adverts before the film would have even started at the cinema? Have you ever wondered how you managed to eat a whole packet by yourself without realising while watching TV at home? Research has constantly shown that we tend to eat more when we are distracted; the more distracted you are, the more mindlessly you will eat (Odgen et al., 2021). Action and scary movies distract us the most and cause us to eat more without noticing.
5. Don’t shop when you’re hungry
We end up buying a higher proportion of higher-sugar and higher-calorie food when we shop while we’re hungry. Try using and sticking to a shopping list, especially if you are hungry, so that you only buy the items that you really need. You are not going to pass by the ice cream aisle if there’s nothing you need to get from there.
Jasmine Borg is a Health Psychology Practitioner who is currently interning with Willingness. She graduated with a Masters of Science in Health Psychology and a Masters of Science in Sports, Exercise & Performance. Her interests lie in health and exercise promotion.
Benton, D., & Young, H. A. (2017). Reducing calorie intake may not help you lose body weight. Perspectives on Psychological Science.
Ogden, J., Biliraki, C., Ellis, A., Lammyman, F., & May, E. (2021). The impact of active or passive food preparation versus distraction on eating behaviour: An experimental study. Appetite, 160, 105072.