JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Experts predict if obesity rates stay consistent, by 2030 more than half of Americans will be obese. Most of us know about traditional diet and exercise routines, but what about things we don't do?
Things like sniffing an apple? A study of 3,000 people by the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago revealed the more frequently they sniffed, the less hungry they were. They lost an average of 30 pounds each.
"I can see how that might work," said registered dietitian and UNF nutrition instructor Alexia Lewis. "Any food that you take a moment to appreciate before you eat, you're more mindful in that moment, and that should slow you down when you eat."
Ever tie a ribbon around your tummy? Many French women wear a ribbon under their clothes tied around their waist. When it gets tight, that means they've eaten too much.
"It just makes you aware, my belly is starting to go out a little bit, maybe I've had enough," said Lewis. "And then hopefully what happens is they pause and they check in with their body, 'Am I satisfied yet? Am I getting close to eating too much?'"
Next, if you're going to eat candy, stick to wrapped candy. A Swiss study found people ate 30 percent less candy when they had to unwrap it first.
"I think wrapped candy is a much better alternative to open candy and it comes back again to mindlessly eating," Lewis explained. "If you are paying attention to one thing and just continuing to dip into the candy bowl, your going to have eaten a lot of candy before you wake up and realize how much you've eaten. So, having to pause and unwrap the candy and make a conscious decision to eat the candy just makes you aware that, 'Oh, I'm unwrapping my fifth piece of candy. Maybe I should turn away from that for now.'"
Another weight loss trick is to hang a mirror opposite your seat at your dining table. One study found that people ate nearly one-third less when they saw the reflection of themselves eating in mirrors.
"I certainly would not eat as much if I were watching myself eat. I think there is something to that," said Lewis. "It's becoming aware of what you're doing and paying attention again in that moment to the eating. It's just one more way to become aware of actions instead of tuning out and overeating, which can lead to weight gain."
And when you are eating, try surrounding yourself with blue. Researchers have found people eat 33 percent less in a blue room.
Lewis said one other trick she shares with her clients is to go by halves at mealtime.
"So eat half of your meal and then pause and see how you feel," suggested Lewis. "If you still are physically hungry, eat half of what's left and then pause, and keep breaking it down by halves so you're paying attention and checking in with your body to see if you need more food or if you are satisfied."
Lewis said just taking a 5-minute pause before eating the next half of your food can help. She added it takes the brain about 20 minutes before it signals it has food in the stomach, so if you are a fast eater, it's easy to overeat. The slower you eat, the more time you give your brain to catch up and know you are actually full and feeling satisfied.