Practice Cereal Monogamy
As a child I often begged my Mom to buy me whatever enticing cereal I saw advertised on TV during Saturday morning cartoons. Back then, advertisements for colorful, sugary cereals dominated the airwaves. Benign cartoon characters smiled from the boxes, promising prizes and excitement with various tasty shapes and treats such as marshmallows and multiple flavors in every bite.
One at a Time
To my chagrin, Mom had a rule at our house; no new cereal was bought until I finished the one box already in the pantry. After several days in a row of the same cereal, even Lucky Charms were no longer “magically delicious.” (I know this is off the topic, but have you noticed that the sweet, smiling leprechaun from my youth has morphed into a leering, creepy dude?)
By the time the one cereal was gone, I forgot about the cereal I craved last Saturday. Mom often would quickly replace the junky cereal with Raisin Bran or Wheat Chex. Today, I still practice Mom’s budget-tightening rule of cereal monogamy. No new cereal goes into my pantry, not even a “healthy” one like oat bran, until I finish what I already have at home.
Slim your variety, Slim your waistline
Ironically, this money-saving move has some scientific support that it helps control overeating. Two studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people are exposed to more dietary variety over six months, their overall calorie intake and body fatness increases. “Variety has an enormous passive effect on calorie intake,” says Susan B. Roberts, the study’s co-author and professor of nutrition at the Tufts University Medical School. “The higher the variety of items you are confronted with, the more people consume without even realizing it.”
It is not just the cereal aisle that confronts consumers with in insane amount of food choices. Grocery stores often contain HUNDREDS of varieties of cookies, cheeses, crackers, chips, dips, ice cream, and candy. According to Barry Schwartz, professor of psychology at Swarthmore College and author of “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less” (Harper Collins, 2005), variety creates torture. At a buffet, people may choose everything for fear that if they only choose some things, they’ll regret their choice. Of course, taking everything guarantees you’re going to take too much.”
>>Bottom line: limiting your food options at home may help you stay slim.
Guest Blogger and Fitness Enthusiast
Photo Credit: [Creative Commons, Richard Cocks]