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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness

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License to Sin: How to Dodge a Devilish Self-Control Loophole

You want another slice of cake or glass of wine, but you know you shouldn’t have one.

It’s the classic self-control dilemma.

But luckily there’s a loophole; sometimes we mentally give ourselves permission to indulge: “Well, I’ve worked hard today, so I’ll have another slice of cake or glass of wine.”

Now there’s a ‘license to sin’.

A recent study cleverly demonstrates this ‘license to sin’ and shows how dangerous it can be (de Witt Huberts et al., 2012).

A little snack

To investigate, the researchers tricked one group of people into thinking they’d worked twice as hard on a boring test as another group.


Both groups were then asked to do a ‘taste test’ of some rather tempting looking snacks.

The group that thought they’d worked harder now had more of a ‘license to sin’ as a reward to themselves.

And sure enough they ate, on average, 130 calories more in 10 minutes than the other group.

It’s fascinating that the participants did this without being told they’d worked harder or being given any other cues.

Also remember that, on average, both groups had their mental self-control muscles depleted the same amount as they’d both spent the same time doing the boring task.

Avoid the loophole

What this study is showing is that these well-worn mental thought processes can be insidious. The mind has all sorts of tricks it plays so that it can get what it wants.

The ‘license to sin’ is one of them. You want to over-indulge, so your mind creates this little story that says: I’ve worked hard, so I deserve it.

The clever thing is that it can completely bypass all those logical, rational things we’ve told ourselves about healthy eating (or whatever it is) and, non-coincidentally, we get what we want.

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t indulge ourselves from time-to-time, but the question is: how often is the license to sin being invoked?

It’s a way of allowing our misbehaviour that is like an exception we all know about, but somehow don’t pull ourselves up on.

Being more aware of, and watching out for this trick may be useful in bolstering our self-control.

source: PsyBlog

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10 easy tips for successful weight loss

By Lucy Danziger

From curbing your cravings to managing stress, you’ll be shedding those pounds in no time with these expert tips for successful weight loss.

1. Eat more slowly 
Slow down! Speeding through meals could be a ticket to stronger cravings and extra helpings. Women who took 29 to eat not only consumed fewer calories but also felt more satisfied than when they ate in only nine minutes, a study from the University of Rhode Island in Kingston notes. To hit the brakes, rest your fork or sip water between bites.

2. Reduce stress levels   
Relax, already. Feeling harried? Log some couch time, or set aside a few moments to breathe deeply — whatever helps you chill out. Some relaxing every day can lower stress hormones that may spur overeating, a study from Harvard Medical School finds.

3. Lower your MSG intake
RIP, MSG. On this plan, you’ll eat plenty of fresh, whole foods, but sometimes you need to reach for premade eats, for whatever reason. When you do, limit those with monosodium glutamate (MSG). The flavour enhancer may interfere with your body’s ability to regulate appetite. Watch out for monosodium glutamate on labels, or hydrolyzed soy protein or autolyzed yeast, both of which contain MSG.

4. Weigh your success
If you have a scale, use it! Dieters who weighed themselves at least weekly lost more weight than those who didn’t, according to research from the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. (Whether you step on the scale once a week or more frequently, weigh yourself in the buff and at the same time of day on the same scale for consistency.) Seeing the numbers plummet can be a great motivator, but it shouldn’t be your only one. Because the scale doesn’t account for lost inches and gains in lean muscle, also pay attention to how your clothes fit, how you look in the mirror and how energized you feel.

5. Don’t drink your calories
Drink to a slimmer you. Don’t forget that liquid calories count toward your bottom line. Americans guzzle an incredible 458 calories a day from drinks such as juice and soda, according to a report in the journal Obesity. Those liquid calories can lead to weight gain, because people don’t necessarily compensate by eating less. 

Craving a soda? Sip a glass of seltzer or club soda (zero calories!) with a squeeze of lemon instead, or save up those happy calories. (Diet sodas aren’t the answer: The artificial sweeteners may signal to your brain that you’ve consumed sugar, which could cause a chain reaction of excess insulin, a blood sugar crash and, eventually, a ramped-up appetite.)

6. Get more sleep
Sleep off the munchies. Eating snacks is a must on this plan, but if you find yourself extra hungry, you may need to log more zzz’s than bites. Getting fewer than seven or eight hours of sleep could cause spikes in ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone and dips in leptin, which suppresses hunger. 

Can’t get into the habit of tucking in at a reasonable hour? Hit the sack 15 minutes earlier each night for a week, then 30 minutes, and so on until you’re logging enough horizontal hours.

7. Eat without distraction
Tune in to your food. If you regularly chew and view, switch off the TV during mealtimes and move from the coffee table to the kitchen or dining table instead. When you’re distracted, you may have a hard time recalling later how much you ate, so you might snack without realizing how many calories you’ve already taken in. Your brain is also more likely to register plated eats on a table as bona fide meals, which means you’re less prone to excess grazing between meals.

8. Eat more vegetables
Grow your veggie love. Not crazy about all the superfood vegetables? To win yourself over, employ the powers of two superfoods you probably do like: Grated parmesan and olive oil. Adding a favorite topping to veggies only three times can train you to enjoy the produce more later, even when you serve them without the extras, according to a study in Appetite.

9. Don’t snack after dinner
Close your kitchen at night. Regularly munching after 8 p.m. is linked to weight gain, according to researchers at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. After packing up any leftovers from dinner and doing the dishes, switch off the kitchen lights and mentally lock up the cupboards and fridge until morning. If you tend to sit in the kitchen reading the paper or paying bills, find another spot in the house to avoid temptation. Out of sight, out of mind!

10. Don’t give up on your weight-loss goals
Cut yourself some slack. Everybody messes up at some point. It is not grounds for throwing in the towel; one overindulgence (or several!) does not a busted diet make. If you didn’t budget enough happy calories for, say, those extra ribs you ate at the picnic, simply get back on track at your next meal. Just remember that every bite is an opportunity to start fresh. You can do this!

Excerpted from The Drop 10 Diet by Lucy Danziger