Note: This is the first article in two-part series. Make sure to check out the next article once you’re finished with this one!
10 Ways To Lose Weight Without Going On A Diet: Part II
Is it possible to lose weight without going on a Diet?
For any of you familiar with my work, you’ll know that I advocate a whole food paleo-ish approach to nutrition. But sometimes adopting a gluten-free or paleo diet is too much. We all go through periods of life when we’re stretched too thin. In these moments, overhauling your nutrition can seem like too much.
You see, diet changes are incredibly effortful at the start. It’s only once the new diet becomes ingrained as a habit that it sticks. This is when it transitions from a diet to a nutrition plan. Nutrition is a way of life; not a temporary change in eating habits. Changing your nutrition can be a long road. And it’s effortful.
I don’t need to go into the details as to why being overweight is unhealthy. If you really need to know, a simple google search can show you the numerous chronic illnesses associated with being overweight.
This post is for those who know that they need to change their nutrition. But are at a place in life where they just don’t have the resources to do so. Yet. Think of these as stepping stones towards a paleo diet. Simple tricks you can use when the going gets tough.
These are the first five of my top ten best ways to lose weight without going on a diet. Next week I’ll post the remaining five strategies.
#1 Diet aromatherapy
Did you know that being exposed to different aromas can increase or decrease your appetite?
There was a study done in the Netherlands where participants were given a fresh vanilla custard to eat. The catch here is that half of the participants also had a vanilla aroma being pumped into the room. Researchers found that participants who ate the vanilla custard while exposed to the vanilla scent took smaller bites. (1)
When you’re exposed to stronger food aromas, it’s likely that you’ll take a smaller bite. This occurs because the flavor is perceived to be more intense when your nose is fully engaged in the meal. By taking smaller bites, it’s likely that you will consume less food overall.
If your downfall is the dessert or other sweets, try diffusing a sweet aroma like vanilla before and during eating. This may be enough to get you to decrease your portions!
Another study done on rats showed that when they were exposed to the grapefruit scent for ten minutes, their ability to burn fat increased by 76% compared to rats that were exposed to the scent of water. This may or may not work on humans but its likely worth diffusing some grapefruit extract in your home during any weight loss endeavors!
Researchers in Germany found that the aroma of olive oil is incredible at controlling appetite. One study offered participants yogurt with olive oil aroma infused into it. The yogurt contained no actual olive oil – just the smell. Participants in this study reported feeling less hungry. This feeling of satiety allowed the study participants to decrease their overall calorie intake by an average of 176 calories every day!
It is thought that the smell of fatty foods triggers associations with fatty foods. Fats have 9 calories per gram. Whereas carbohydrates and proteins have 4 calories per gram. Simply by thinking you are consuming a fatty food (the smell of olive oil) can be enough to trick your brain into thinking it is full.
If you combine the info from the above three studies, your weightloss gameplan should look like this:
- Diffuse vanilla or any other sweet aroma when you are going to eat dessert or any other sweets.
- Diffuse grapefruit throughout the day as it may help you increase your ability to burn fat.
- Diffuse olive oil (or, bacon fat?) during large meals. This will help you to eat less.
And there you have it. The first simple way to lose weight without going on a diet.
#2 Mental distractions
Mental distraction involves thinking about something other than what you are currently experiencing. For example, when you have to give a presentation in front of your colleagues at work, imagining each of them naked is one form of mental distraction. This same technique can work for decreasing food cravings.
Have you started craving all the foods you’re going to eat the moment your diet is finished?
If you are to stare at something called dynamic visual noise whenever you have a food craving, you’ll eat less. You’ll need to focus on the attached video for at least 8 seconds for this to work. You can do this every time you have a food craving. Research shows that by doing so, you’ll eat fewer calories. (4)
Another study showed that playing Tetris on your phone for three minutes every time a craving was felt decreased cravings for food by fourteen percent. I doubt that this is specific to Tetris. So, try it with any app-based game found on your phone. You may find that some are more satiating than others!
When you think about a particular food (let’s say chocolate), you also conjure up memories and emotions that you have associated with chocolate. If you’re a chocolate fanatic, these memories are likely very positive. This creates even more thoughts and desires towards chocolate. At this point, you’re probably reaching for the chocolate bar.
By playing games or staring at dynamic visual noise you interrupt your thoughts. This interruption stops the cascade of positive memories/emotions from propelling you towards consuming the chocolate. Researchers call this the elaborated intrusion theory. (5)
When you have your next food craving, try the following:
- Stare at dynamic visual noise for 8 seconds.
- Play an app on your phone.
#3 Non-food odors
Yes, there are even more ways to trick your brain using smells!
In one study, participants were shown pictures of delicious chocolate treats. Participants were then asked to think about how much they wanted to eat the chocolate delight they had just seen. While the participants were fantasizing about the chocolate they were (hopefully) going to eat, researchers had them smell either water, green apple odor, or a non-food odor like jasmine.
The participants were then asked to rate how strongly they craved the chocolate delight. It turns out that the smell you’re exposed to has a huge impact on your food cravings. In the study, those exposed to a non-food odor like jasmine reduced their chocolate cravings by 13% compared to those who smelled either water or green apple. (6)
Similar to Tetris or dynamic visual noise, smelling a non-food odor disrupts your thinking. In fact, non-food odors are even better than visual distractions at controlling food cravings. One study showed that the pleasant, non-food smell of methyl acetate reduced cravings for sweet foods by 20% and 25% for savory foods. (7)
To best distract yourself from food craving via scents, try choosing an odor that has a strong, pleasant emotional memory attached to it. If the smell triggers an emotional memory, it will distract you (and therefore decrease your food cravings) better than a scent that has no memories associated with it.
If your strongest food cravings occur at 10 am, make sure you have that scent on hand!
# 4 Visual cues
Did you know, if you are able to see food, you’re more likely to enjoy it? And consequently, you’re at a greater risk of eating too much.
There’s a very good reason restaurants pay attention to the presentation of food. The likelihood of you enjoying your food is increased if it is well presented. If you think this is hooey, try eating part of your next meal with a blindfold on. I reckon the taste sensations and enjoyment of the food will be diminished.
In one study, Hersey’s Kisses were placed on the desks of office workers. The study compared the average consumption by office workers. The trick here is that one jar of the Hersey’s Kisses was clear – allowing the workers to see the treats. The other jar did not allow the workers to see inside (even though they knew it was full of Hersey’s Kisses). (8)
The results? The workers that could see into the jar ate substantially more. 46% more to be exact.
Another study randomly assigned participants to eat one of three varieties of salad. All three salads contained the exact same ingredients and portions of the ingredients. The first salad was prepared to look like a regular tossed salad. The second had each ingredient separated. The third was assembled to look like Wassily Kandinsky’s painting number 201.
Participants rated the salad prepared like painting number 201 to be 20% tastier than the others. Even though the only difference was the way in which the ingredients were displayed. (9) Perhaps it is true that you eat with your eyes before your mouth.
If you’re looking to lose weight, you’d be wise to keep your lunch hidden from site. Try wrapping your sandwich in aluminum foil instead of saran wrap. While eating lunch, eat one item at a time. Keep the other items away from your line of sight. And if you want to get aggressive with your weightloss strategies, simply make your dinners visually unappealing. You’ll likely eat less!
#5 Light and appetite
Next time you head to a restaurant, pay close attention to the lighting inside. You’ll likely notice that fast food restaurants have bright lights. Higher-end restaurants are typically lit with warm lights and have far less light than their fast food relatives. Why is that?
It turns out that a warm, dimly lit atmosphere makes you feel less inhibited. When this occurs, you’re likely to consume more calories. (10) When your mood is relaxed, you’re more likely to linger. If you stay at a table long enough, you’re going to get hungry again. This is where the dessert menu comes into effect.
Contrary, bright lighting encourages people to eat faster and leave quickly. This is why fast food restaurants are so bright. They’re hoping to turn the tables over quickly to make room for the next patron. Rapid food consumption can cause a lack of awareness around the number of calories you’ve consumed. If you eat too fast, you don’t give your guts time to communicate to your brain that you’re full.
If your goal is weight loss, you’ll want to try and control the lighting of the environment in which you eat (if possible). Opt for lighting that is neither as bright as a fast food restaurant nor as dim as your favorite romantic restaurant. Goldilocks levels of lighting are the key here. Bright enough that you won’t linger but not so bright that you eat in a hurry.
Ok, now you have the first half of my pro-tips to help you lose weight without going on a diet.
Stay tuned, next week I’ll release the next five!
Also published on Medium.