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It Will Change How You Eat

Inhaling the aroma of freshly baked cinnamon buns while walking through the shopping centre can collapse the best of weight-loss intentions. I know this to be true as a coffee shop I used to run I would roast coffee beans near the entrance and use a fan to blow the smell into the walkway of oncoming passers by, so many would come in and buy coffee. On the other hand, watching a violent movie likely puts the kibosh on your appetite. In addition to these obvious appetite deterrents and stimulants, other more stealth issues can also play a role in the your weight-management efforts. Be aware of the ones that trick you into overeating and use those that work for you.

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Scented candles: Your favourite scent may help you lose weight, according to Alan Hirsch, MD, neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. Sniffing a vanilla, banana, green apple or peppermint scented candle may trick your brain into thinking you’ve already eaten it, says Hirsch. “Smell is 90 percent of taste.” Spritz one of these fragrances on a tissue if a candle isn’t available to cut cravings.

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Listening to music: If you find yourself overeating at your favourite lively restaurant, it may have more to do with the background music than the homemade blue cheese dip, according to a 2012 study published in Psychological Reports. Researchers found that softening the music in fast food restaurants resulted in an 18 percent drop in calories consumed. “When it comes to music, it so much depends on how much you like or dislike a certain piece,” says Joseph Cardillo PhD, research psychologist and author of Your Playlist Can Change Your Life. “What calms one person could repulse another.” Cardillo recommends experimenting to find what works best for you. “Use songs that send the message you need to hear to channel your willpower.”

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Eating off coloured plates: While the colour blue is widely known as an appetite-suppressing colour, red may work even better. A 2012 study published in the journal Appetite showed that participants drank less from the red-labeled cup than from the blue-labeled cup and ate fewer snack food from the red plate than from the blue or white plates. Researchers believe the red colour works as a subtle, subconscious “stop” signal.

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Chowing down on potatoes: Potatoes get a bad rap. They’re banned from many diets because of their high carb content, yet they possess one attribute that make them a dieter’s dream: resistant starch, an appetite suppressant. Resistant starch is known as the “third type” of dietary fiber, says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, board certified specialist in sport dietetics and the Dallas Cowboys sports dietitian. “Resistant starch is found in beans, legumes, starch fruits and vegetables (like bananas), whole grains and some types of cooked-then-cooled food like potatoes and rice.” Note that the longer and hotter the starch is cooked, the less resistant starch it contains, so cold potatoes provide more resistant starch than hot. Potato salad (no mayo), anyone?

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Spiking meals with vinegar: Not just for salad dressing anymore, vinegar (acetic acid) helps lower the glycemic index (reduces the blood sugar spike) after eating carbohydrate-rich foods. “Many studies show that vinegar lower the glycemic index up to 20 to 35 percent,” says Goodson. “A stable blood sugar means you feel satisfied after a meal and don’t get hungry quickly.” If a meal such as a salad lends itself to a dash of vinegar, go for it, says Goodson, but eating acetic acid containing fermented and pickled foods have the same effect. Or combine the resistant starch of cold potatoes with a vinegar dressing for double benefits.

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Nibbling dark chocolate: Yes, chocolate, a major downfall of many dieters, may actually help you lose weight. The catch: it must be dark, not milk chocolate. And sorry, but you’ll have to skip the caramel filling and nuts, too. Nonetheless, it’s still chocolate. A 2011 study published in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes showed that participates felt more satisfied and less hungry after eating dark chocolate, rather than milk chocolate. It also lowered the desire to eat something sweet or fatty. Melt an ounce of dark chocolate and use it as a dip for fresh fruit for a healthy, appetite-suppressing snack.

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Dimming the lights: Along with listening to soothing music, dimming the lights in a restaurant also resulted in people eating fewer calories, according to a study out of Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. The researchers divided half of a Hardee’s fast food restaurant into a fine dining environment, complete with soft lighting. Researchers expected the relaxing environment to entice people to eat more. Instead, although it took diners longer to eat, they ate less food than people who eat in a fast food environment. They also rated the food more enjoyable. So take your time, dim the lights and lose more weight.

Foods That Keep You Awake

If you are having trouble falling or staying asleep at night, your diet could be to blame. Steer clear of these top sleep saboteurs and you should be getting a good nights rest in no time.

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Caffeine
You know that caffeine will keep you wide-awake, but what you may not realise? Coffee and soda aren't the only culprits. Some over the counter medicines contain caffeine, too, as do many teas. If you are caffeine sensitive, start opting for decaf and checking the labels of any meds you are planning to take about eight hours before bedtime.

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Alcohol
A glass of wine might sound like it will help you relax and fall asleep, but studies have actually found that alcohol causes frequent waking at night. See, while booze may help you drift off, it also reduces REM sleep and without it, you will not feel like you have logged any shuteye at all. So stick to just one glass no more than one to two hours before bed to avoid a rocky night.

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Fluids
Water is great for weight loss and staying healthy but can have the unfortunate side effect of waking you up for middle of the night bathroom breaks and not only do 2 a.m. toilet runs interrupt your sleep cycle, but they can also cut into your REM sleep. Try to avoid drinking fluids 60-90 minutes before your usual bedtime to make sure you actually spend all night in bed.

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Aged and Fermented Foods
Tyramine, an amino acid found in aged and fermented foods, stimulates the brain and could keep you up at night as a result. Aged cheese, smoked fish, and cured meats all contain it, so if you must have a cheesy snack before bedtime, stick to the fresh stuff, like mozzarella.

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Tomato Based Products
Anything with a lot of acid can cause heartburn and discomfort during the night and that includes tomato based foods and spicy dishes. To prevent tossing and turning, stay away from these types of foods at least three hours before you hit the sack.