THE BLOG

When it Comes to Food, Willpower Doesn't Exist

07/01/2013 12:01 EDT | Updated 08/31/2013 05:12 EDT
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Grilled beefsteak with mushrooms and potateos

We think we are in complete control of our senses, but there's a new study that proves just how unperceptive we can be about our food intake. Now we are learning that the colour of cutlery influences our perception of how food tastes.

A new study finds that the size, shape, and weight of the spoon affects how people assess flavor. Some assessments went so far as tasting "expensive" because the spoon was heavier. What it tells me as a nutritionist is that the brain makes judgements even before food goes into your mouth, which indicates that we are less aware and more influenced by our surroundings than we think.

Previous studies have shown how we are more inspired to eat more jellybeans if there are more colours, and that the placement of a clear or opaque candy dish influences how many we pop into our mouths.

This backs up my oft-repeated belief that willpower does not exist; only systems work. The best and most effective way to control your food intake and consciously enjoy what is going in your mouth is to have an unwavering process through which you chew each day.

Another study this week found that employers should feed their staff, or at least insist on a lunch break. The study found that lunch skippers were more likely to make poor or risky decisions since the flight or fight triggers fired when hunger was at play (In my world, we call it "hangry"). This state caused less clear thinking and more aggressive behavior. Blame your employer if your cubicle mate is ticking you off by 3 o'clock.

Some tips on how to fix it:

The more systematic you can make your life, the fewer decisions you will have to make on the fly.

Breakfast is always the same on weekdays: Magic Muesli.

Put exercise first daily, even a 10 minute round of jumping jacks will set you up for success.

Pack a lunch. Soups and stews or leftover salads are right in the fridge, begging to come along.

Take a break and eat lunch. Duh.

Have a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts at 3 p.m.

Do what you want for dinner as long as you have two vegetables, and nothing deep fried.

See? Simple.

Discussed here on CTV news