Overwhelmed by diet tips? Change your environment first, study advises

April 30, 2010

ANAHEIM, CA: Overwhelmed by tons of daily diet advice? If only we knew which diet tips to follow.

According to a new finding by a team of Cornell University researchers, dieters who focus on changing their surroundings find it easier to adhere to their diet. Understandably, they also report losing the most weight.

The researchers, led by Brian Wansink, Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, presented their findings at this week's Experimental Biology conference in Anaheim, Calif.

For the study, 200 participants from the National Mindless Eating Challenge (predecessor of the MindlessMethod.com) were given diet tips from three distinct categories: 1) change your environment, 2) change your eating behavior, and 3) change your food choices.

"We found that dieters who were given stylized environmental tips -- such as use a 10-inch plate, move the candy dish, or rearrange their cupboards -- stuck to their diets an average of two more days per month," said Wansink, author of the book, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.

In this three-month study, people reported losing 1 to 2 pounds per month per tip. What made the biggest difference? "Consistency," Wansink said, "If a person was able to follow a tip for at least 20 days each month, changes really started to happen."

What are some examples of environmental changes? Wansink advises using smaller dinner plates, keeping high calorie foods out of sight, and turning off the television, computer and cell phones during mealtime.

"These types of changes are much easier to follow than saying you will eat smaller meals, substitute fruit for sweets, or give up chocolate and French fries," he added.
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The National Mindless Eating Challenge was the predecessor of the Mindless Method (MindlessMethod.com). It focused on helping people eliminate or reverse the hidden cues that determine what, when and how much they eat.

Experimental Biology is an annual meeting of nearly 13,000 scientists and exhibitors from the fields of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, pathology, nutrition, pharmacology and immunology. Conference participants come from the ranks of universities, government agencies, non-profit organizations and private corporations.

For more information, contact the Cornell Food and Brand Lab at foodandbrandlab@cornell.edu, or visit mindlesseating.org.

Cornell Food & Brand Lab

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