Can We Train Our Brain To Resist Food Temptation?

At present, more than one in three American adults above 20 years old is obese. The number increase from approximately one in four two decades ago. Sadly, almost 70% of Americans are overweight. Millions of other citizens are carrying more weight than they want this time of the year.

Numerous Americans experience not only health issues, but shame and guilt over these extra pounds. And that is why weight loss as an industry of diet companies, diet book authors, obesity doctors and weight loss pill manufacturers – is a real big business. Businesses that are focused on weight loss products and services could easily rake in $6.3 billion in revenue last year based on an IBISWorld report.

Good examples would be Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem. Sales of their supplements, which promise weight loss, add billion more. And nowadays, doctors are performing thousands of bariatric surgeries annually to help patients get rid of their excessive body weight.

The desire of many to slim down is a great source of cash for other people. To earn those big sums of money, some companies are eager to stretch the reality of what their products and services could do.

To make sure that most of the weight-loss ads are relatively true, and there are a number of diet supplements that work. Still, the quantity of misinformation in the weight loss industry is very high. Consumers must learn how to read labels to avoid fraudulent products. Avoid those that offer like losing 10 pounds in just 10 days.

Interestingly, a group of psychologists has specially designed a computer game aimed at improving the inhibitory control of a user and a mobile application that fights unhealthy urges before they hit. The inhibitory control is the part of the brain that bars you from giving in to unhealthy cravings even when the smell of hamburger is basically begging you to fall in line in the nearest burger stand. These technologies are believed to have the ability to train the brain to defy temptation.

Researchers from Drexel University worked hard to answer a question if a computer game can actually train a person’s brain to resist sweets and other cravings. The researchers conducted some testing whether a new computer game and Smartphone can change people’s behavior towards eating.

Just recently, the Drexel University researchers have launched a few studies. They have developed technologies that can help in controlling unwholesome eating habits and eventually lose weight.

Their computer game is built to help a person control himself and not give in any delicious temptations.
On the other hand, the mobile app can intelligently detect patterns in the eating habits of an individual. Whenever a user misses his dietary plan, the mobile app provides customized strategies to guide and put them back on the right track.

Based on the data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69% of adults residing in Philadelphia are obese or overweight. While there are different factors contributing to the obesity epidemic in the city, oftentimes a person’s mind is the biggest obstruction when it comes to weight loss. This is according to Dr. Evan Forman, who is a psychology professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. He continued, saying that sweet foods set off the same feel-good brain chemicals as addictive drugs.

Millions of people who are trying to lose weight usually do it by minimizing their calorie consumption. It is not uncommon that in some days, they might slip from their diet plans. This can happen to anyone. Dr. Forman said that the secret of helping people really lose weight is preventing these slips. That’s why they concentrate on how the best way to do and achieve that.

All throughout the day, you have to decide about what foods you eat. And it is not a secret that there is a dominant part of your mind that drives a person toward things that feel and taste good.

For example, an officemate brings a dozen of doughnuts into the workplace. For someone regularly eats sweets, the initial reaction is, “I love to have one.” The next response is to try to pump the brakes on the urge. Unfortunately, that kind of reaction is usually slower and weaker than impulse.

However, a couple of studies have shown that if someone performs certain tasks involving inhibitory control constantly, it actually gets stronger.

Dr. Forman and his team of researchers tested this premise in the latest study, which was published in a journal Called Appetite. Eaters who habitually consume snack food were assigned to 1 of 4 short, training exercises customized to increase their cautious decision-making and reinforce their inhibitory control. It was concluded that both trainings were effective in curbing snack eating.

Right now, the researchers are trying to discover whether inhibitory control training can help the participants minimize their sugary food consumption, and eventually lose weight.

DietDash is the name of their new training game. First, it requires participants to reveal the kinds of sugary food they eat very often. They will then be assigned to 1 of 4 versions of a game that is designed to their diet. For instance, if a participant lists soda and chocolate cake as their favourite treat, those will appear in the game.

The players have to press some keys to respond to different kinds of images, which include images of yummy sugary foods and images of healthy foods. As the inhibitory control of a player improve the speed of the game increases with an extra challenge. Every user is required to play for 8 minutes daily, 7 days a week for 6 weeks.

Although other studies have shown this kind of training at least temporarily influences the eating habits of a user. The researchers wish to know the result over a period of 2 months. The National Institutes of Health funded this project.

This is the first attempt to train individuals for a couple of weeks in a row. The researchers believe that this can translate to “real-world behaviours,” because any task improves with regular practice.

Dr. Forman is confident that when the study is done, the computer game could be developed into a mobile application.

The second technology that the researchers design is called DietAlert. Obesity Society and Weight Watchers funded the project.

This Smartphone app gathers data about the eating habits of a user and incorporates a mathematical algorithm to identify when he or she is expected to slip from his or her diet plan.

For example, the app may say that an individual is more likely to consume sugary foods after lunch when she misses out her breakfast. As someone’s eating pattern becomes familiar with the app, it can send a warning alert and give tips to help the user focus more on his health plan.

One of the most difficult parts of a diet plan is the failure to distinguish and mark factors that keep causing lapses constantly.

The DietAlert app is like no other application available technology today. It does not only track a user’s eating habits, but it also incorporates the data to provide a personalized recommendation.

DietAlert targets every person exactly when he needs the right kind of help.

The researchers in the Laboratory for Innovations in Health-Related Behavior Change of Drexel University are now searching for participants of both studies.

The DietDash study must be between 25 and 55 years old, overweight, and consume sweets frequently. All the participants who will complete the study will receive compensation.

On the other hand, those who are interested in participating in the DietAlert study must be between 18 and 65 years old. You must be looking for ways to lose weight. Compensation and a free Weight Watchers mobile app monthly subscription will be given to those who will be able to complete the study.

12 Losing Weight Methods That Do Not Work

Do you find it difficult to drop those extra pounds? There are surprising explanations that can help you understand the wrong things you are doing.

You have exhausted the last seven days putting in place your best effort to lose two pounds or more. Unfortunately, your weekly register with the weighing scale divulges that you cannot get your weight loss goals in motion. Possibly, your willpower is not the issue here. You must be making weight loss mistakes that even habitual dieters fall prey to.

Of course, you can absolutely bang the weight loss plateau. You have been walking the narrow road to weight loss by counting calories; still, you are not losing extra pounds. The answers might be all hiding out in the middle of various practices you do on an average day. Those little habits have apparently no connection to weight loss, but may, in fact, be disrupting your best efforts to slim down.

  1. Eating Too Little.

You need to increase your calories to put fuel to your metabolism. When someone plunges below 1,200 calories daily, he is not consuming enough to get all the nutrients. However, your body slows the metabolism to cling to valued calories. This is what Dr. Christine Gerbstadt believes.

In addition, if you miss out meals to drop extra pounds, your body could lose the capacity to feel full. Maybe you can blame it to human evolution, which has designed the human bodies to defend against famine and not a table full of food.

For instance, if you miss your breakfast, the body presumes food is limited. You need to eat something in the morning to let your body know it is fine to burn calories. According to Dr. Gerbstadt, if you walk for an hour, you must eat 350 to 500 calories during breakfast, with 10g to 15g of protein and fiber to add fuel to the metabolic fire. There are lots of healthy breakfast ideas that you can apply.

  1. Gulping Diet Drinks.

A research suggests that diet drinks may possibly boomerang. The taste of a sweet food or drink with no calories causes the body to keep calories as fat. In one research, drinkers of diet sodas had a 178% greater increase in their waistline over a decade, compared with drinkers of non-diet sodas.

The truth is, artificial sweeteners actually lower your blood sugar and increase the insulin levels. These events may arouse hunger and transfer available calories into storage space in your fat cells. One of the authors of the above study, Sharon P. Fowler, MPH, says this could all happen to people who gulp diet soda. In addition, fake sweeteners might not suppress a craving like real sugar can. This is because sugar prompts a longer dopamine release. Even after you down 2 cans of Diet Coke, you may still desire a candy bar afterward.

  1. Eliminating Wine.

Women who drank 1 to 2 glasses of wine every day gained less weight for more than 13 years. This is a claim supported by a research conducted by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. This effect is comparable to those women who did not drink alcohol – 8lbs versus 5.5lbs, to be precise.

  1. Rewarding Workout With Food.

Sure thing, burning 300 calories during an exercise is a good reason for celebration, but rewarding yourself after a workout with a high-calorie delicacy does not add up to your weight loss plan. You are expected to miscalculate how much the exercise burned off and take too lightly the amount of food you ate.

The author of the Nutrient Timing for Peak Performance, Heidi Skolnik, said that even if someone is working out for fitness, he still has to keep checking the calories.

  1. Befriending Heavy People.

Some people thought that having heavier friends will make them look smaller. But, your chances of being obese increase half a percent with every obese friend you have. This is according to a recent Harvard study. Your chances of obesity doubled for every 4 obese friends you have.

According to a New England Journal of Medicine study, even if your friend lives miles away, your chances of gaining weight still increases. This is because your observation of being overweight alters; living bigger seems more acceptable since your friends are heavy. It is interesting to note that having an overweight or obese neighbour who is not close to you does not increase your risk.

Also, experts believe that a person’s lifestyle and attitude can subconsciously be influenced by his inner circle of friends.

But, it would be unfair to ditch your friends who are overweight or obese to lose weight. As a matter of fact, if you get on together on a workout plan, you can raise the calories you’re burning and the fun you are feeling.

An Oxford research discovers that working out with your friends as a group can essentially make the pain of working out less intense. The similar type of hormones is released during social activities, endorphins, which also help relieve pain. Once your friend begins losing weight, you have a higher probability of losing as well. This kind of mechanism works both ways.

  1. Following a Fat-Free or No Carb Diet.

Slashing any of the food groups, say, fat or carbohydrates can leave you short of the nutrients your body requires to keep you energized. According to a recent study, dieters who are low in vitamin C and calcium had bigger odds of putting off belly fat.

The trick is a varied diet that includes good carbs and healthy fats like fruits and vegetables.  Nevertheless, the biggest reason low-carbohydrate diets boomerang is that, for most people, they are not sustainable over the long run. It is very rare that someone can say no to pasta dinners and birthday cakes forever. Like any other diet, once a person gives up, he regains the weight he lost and gains more. These fluctuations can make it an even larger trial to lose weight the next time.

  1. Avoid Making Your Diet Digital.

Maybe you are already aware that jotting down what you consume helps you undoubtedly minimize your calorie intake, merely by making you conscious of every bite.

However, you might not be informed that using a digitized application or program with encouraging feedback can help you lose even more weight. The University of Pittsburgh study determines that individuals who checked their diet and physical activities with a digital device that offers regular feedback drop more weight. They also fixed their diet with a digital gadget than those who used pen and paper.

Not only that, a group who uses high-tech devices increased their vegetable and fruit intake more than those paper users. You are not required to log in every single day or week to enjoy the benefits. A study discovered that dieters who noted meals online just once a month were thrice more likely to keep off extra pounds over two years, compared with those who did so less regularly.

  1. Eating Healthy Always.

There is a funny thing going on when you focus on making cautious dietary decisions. If you just assume your meal is a light option, it can make your brain produce more hormone ghrelin. This is according to a Yale University study.

Higher levels of ghrelin make you feel less full, which signals the metabolism to slow down says Dr. Alia Crum. To keep this hormone balanced, focus your attention on more lenient elements of your meal like cheese and nuts of your salad, rather than the lettuce.

The trick is to pick items that are both healthy and seem like a reward, like a delicious bowl of warm soup with whole grain bread.

  1. Paying with Plastic

Some people believe that paying with a credit card is much easier and healthier than paying in cash. For them, carrying cash feels like too old of a tradition and will limit their option for buying healthy stuff. But according to a Journal of Consumer Research study, individuals who are using a credit card when shopping buy considerably more calorie-dense, totally unhealthy foods than those who pay in cash.

Since shoppers do not instantly feel the hit in their wallet, they tend to buy junk food with extra calories. With a credit card on hand, one can immediately give in to his impulses. This is explained by Dr. Kalpesh Desai, an associate professor of marketing at Binghamton University.

  1. Thinking about Your Exercise All The Time

There are those who believe that thinking more often about your exercise will help you become more committed to your workout program. It may be helpful in some aspects, but there is a downside to it, according to a French study. A simple habit of thinking about exercise can make you eat 50 percent more. People think that the forthcoming exercise grants them to snack more.

You have to prevent extra munching with a pre-workout snack of not over 150 calories, says Dr. Keri Glassman, who wrote The Snack Factor Diet. You can try 2 slices of whole grain crackers with turkey if you really feel hungry.

  1. Sleeping Too Little

Dr. Michael Breus who authors The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan says that insufficient shut-eye puts your body into a fat and carb craving survival mode. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found out that women who slept less than 4 hours consumed 21 more grams of fat and 300 more calories the next day.

Work on gauging your sleep requirement. Weekly, go to bed 7 1\2 hours before you have to get up. If you woke up before the alarm, you can get by with less sleep. But if you hit snooze and feel like needing more sleep, then try to sleep earlier the next night. This will help you recharged, refreshed and burn more fats.

  1. Too Focused At Work

Although you have to work well, but being laser-focused at work have a few disadvantages. If you sit in front of your desk for a couple of hours, your body stops producing lipase, a fat-inhibiting enzyme. This is a recent discovery of the University of Missouri–Columbia researchers.

You need to stand and do some stretching each hour to boost your metabolism by 13%. This is a healthy suggestion from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In addition, you can fidget all day by tapping your feet or bouncing in your chair to increase calorie burn by 54%.