Hoping to drop a few pounds? Or maybe 100 pounds? Wouldn’t it be great to take a magic pill and have the weight melt away? You’d think by now, with all of the advances in medicine, researchers would finally have figured out how to help people quickly and easily lose weight — and keep it off, of course. We’re not there yet, unfortunately, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t some rather unusual but simple ways that you might try to help you on your weight-loss journey. And no, I’m not talking about crazy, unsafe or unproven methods, either, such as ingesting a tapeworm, getting hCG shots, taking dangerous diet pills, or swallowing cotton balls (yes, there’s actually a “cotton ball diet”). Read on to learn some tips and tricks that can help you safely lose weight.
Change the color of your dinnerware. How could the color of your plate or bowls affect your weight? A study in the journal Appetite revealed that when subjects were given a snack served off red, white, or blue plates, the subjects who ate off the red plates ate less. Previous studies have shown that eating your food off contrasting dishware can help with weight loss, but there might be something about red that packs more of a punch. The color red is associated with “stop” and “danger,” at least in most of our minds, and the power of red might be carried over to how much we eat, as well. If you’re not partial to red, consider blue. Dining in a blue room and eating off blue plates tends to slow your eating rate, which, in turn, may help you to eat less.
Sniff away. A study conducted at the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation found that overweight people who smelled bananas or green apples when they felt hungry lost more weight than folks who didn’t. And people who wore vanilla-scented patches lost an average of 4.5 pounds each. In another study, from the German Research Center for Food Chemistry, subjects who smelled extra-virgin olive oil reported greater feelings of fullness. And researchers at Osaka University in Japan who had rats smell grapefruit oil for 15 minutes found that the rats ate less and lost weight. Why does the scent of food possibly help with weight loss? It may be that smelling a food tricks the brain into thinking you’re actually eating it.
Quit the clean plate club. Growing up, you may have been warned by your parents that you couldn’t leave the table until you cleaned your plate. However, being a member of the clean plate club has a downside: you let the amount of food on the plate dictate how much you eat. Take back control. You can do this by eating off a smaller plate or by making a point of leaving a few bites of food on your plate every time you eat. Doing so can shave off 100 calories or more from your meal, and over time, that prevents weight gain.
Grab your smartphone. Studies show that people who faithfully keep food records are more likely to lose weight and keep it off than people who don’t. However, the reality is that dutifully recording your food intake, whether on paper or using a smartphone app, can get somewhat tedious over time, and understandably, some people quickly fall off the wagon. A way around this is to take a picture of your food. There are some apps that allow you snap pictures of your meals and snacks and send them to a nutrition expert for feedback or share with others for feedback (try MealLogger). Even if you keep your pictures to yourself, you can look back at them and get a firsthand look at what and how much you ate; you can then think about how you might change that meal the next time (e.g., eat a smaller portion, cook with less butter, add more vegetables, etc.).
Crank up the AC at bedtime. We all have body fat. Most of us have too much white fat, however, which is the kind that raises the risk for heart disease and diabetes, and not enough brown fat, the healthful fat that helps burn calories. Researchers have discovered that turning down the thermostat may activate a gene that converts white fat into brown fat. Spending time outdoors in the cold can help burn off calories (yes, there’s something to be said for cold winter weather), as can turning on your air conditioner at night while you sleep.
Reach for water. A study published in 2015 in the journal Obesity may have confirmed what many health experts have advised over the years: You should start off your meal by drinking water. In this study, obese adults drank 16 ounces of regular water 30 minutes before eating their meals. Other subjects were told to imagine being full before they ate their meals. The results? The water drinkers lost an average of almost 3 pounds more than the other group. Drinking water before a meal is a great way to stay hydrated (especially in hot weather) and help fill you up so that you eat less.
The above tips are good examples of how making small but meaningful changes to your daily habits can help you lose weight. Of course, a healthful eating plan and regular physical activity are mainstays of any weight-loss plan, but strategies like these can hopefully help you reach and stay at your weight goal, as well.
Being diagnosed with diabetes changes a person’s relationship with food. Bookmark DiabetesSelfManagement.com and tune in tomorrow to read Amy Mercer’s experiences with the “diabetic diet” — and share your own.