Every Sunday morning I eagerly go out my front door and pick up my copy of The Star Tribune. I grew up in a household where we received and read the paper daily, so it is no surprise that once I graduated college I signed up for it again. For my birthday last month, my dear mom renewed my annual subscription for the newspaper as an additional surprise gift– and not kidding, I was excited.
Reading the newspaper– and I’m talking about the traditional paper copy– allows me to read interesting stories on topics I care about and exposes me to read stories on topics at times I would likely not seek out on my own. In this way I learned, for example, that fjords are the noisiest places in the ocean and that volunteers are extending the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail by hammering into rocks and leveling the ground.
A recent article titled “Inside the myth-busting lab of food psychologist Traci Mann” has not only peaked my interest during my usual reading of the Health section but changed the way I view and think about certain aspects of my eating, turning eating into a more mindful experience.
Dr. Traci Mann says: Don’t Rely on Willpower, Eat Smart Instead
Traci Mann is a University of Minnesota food psychologist, who leads the Health and Eating Lab and recently published her book Secrets from the Eating Lab. She believes willpower will only take you so far (and sometimes regress) in trying to eat healthy. Her research is centered around shaping the way and the environments in which we eat: she calls this strategic eating.
Here are the best take-aways I incorporated into my life from the article:
- Don’t be within reach of tempting food. Mann reports that adding even 2 feet of distance between you and the food (like a bag of chips) will make it much less likely you’ll eat it, or at least less likely to eat as much as you would had it been right in front of you.
- Eat your veggies first, and if you can, separately. If you have pizza and salad, you’re probably going to eat the pizza first… and get mostly full and probably nibble on pieces of lettuce so it doesn’t look bad you left so much food on your plate. Mann calls this “competition”: the salad doesn’t stand a chance if it’s on the same plate as the pizza. Instead, have the salad first on a separate plate, then bring out the pizza. Also, remember not to overeat now that you actually ate the whole salad and are starting on the pizza.
- Eat from smaller plates. You’ll trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more, and it’ll require you to make more effort (and thus be less likely) to stand up and grab a second helping.
- It’s okay to indulge on occasion! You’re human. It’s okay. We all do it. Just don’t pig out; instead be mindful and enjoy the savory experience!
For more strategies on smart eating, check out the sub-article “Traci Mann’s best strategies for healthful eating“.