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David Baxter

Mar 26, 2004
The No Willpower Diet
by Laura Freberg
March 12, 2011

If you?re like many Americans, you probably started the new year with a resolution to lose weight. And like many Americans, your willpower is probably faltering about now.

Part of the challenge is that our ancestors did not have to worry about obesity. On the contrary, their primary concern was not having enough to eat. As a result, our bodies are programmed to survive famine. So instead of having natural controls to prevent overeating, our bodies will gleefully urge us to eat whenever food is around -- even if we?re not hungry. That?s why willpower so often fails us.

As a reformed chubby (I lost 80 pounds five years ago and have kept it off), I?d like to share some ?environmental engineering,? no-willpower diet tricks I?ve learned that make it easier to eat healthfully -- so I don?t have to rely on self-discipline all the time:

1. Make cheating hard to do. Do not have convenient cheat foods in your house or office. Do have convenient healthy foods around.

2. Control portions. When you cook, immediately package the food into freezer containers with just one portion each. That way, when you?re tired and hungry and just want to zap something, you have a healthy dinner minutes away. And go ahead and hit the big-box stores for bargains, but immediately divide that big package of nuts or crackers into single-serving baggies.

3. Reduce the number of food-related decisions you make every day. Everyone has some willpower, but constant decision-making wears you down. By eating similar, healthy things every day (e.g., cereal for breakfast, sandwich with fruit for lunch, etc.), you aren?t tempted by an array of unhealthy choices at every snack or meal, because you?ve already made your healthy picks ahead of time.

4. Use smaller dishes. This gem is from Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating, who found that we eat more when we use larger dishes. Switching from large dinner plates to small salad plates tricks your mind into feeling satisfied with smaller portions.

5. Be selective about treats. If I?m going to splurge, I would much rather have one of my husband?s gourmet tiramisus than a nasty package of store-bought, cardboard-textured cookies. Then, give your treats your undivided attention -- no eating while reading, watching TV, texting, etc.

6. Save restaurants and alcohol for rare occasions. You?ll avoid temptation, cut back on calories and save a lot of money for new clothes.

7. Make easy lifestyle changes: Switch from sugared to diet soda, or better yet to water. Putting a fruit basket on the dinner table was enough for one of Wansink?s families to lose weight -- it reminded them to make more healthy choices.

Once you?ve optimized your environment for healthy eating, give your willpower an added boost by weighing yourself every day. No excuses. If you?re up the tiniest fraction, fix it today -- not next week.

Finally, keep a positive, long-term attitude. We all slip -- it?s just a matter ofgetting back on track right away. After years of yo-yo dieting, I know firsthandthat losing weight and keeping it off aren?t easy. But having finallysucceeded, I am living proof that it?s not impossible either.


Forum Supporter
Aug 5, 2004
A Cornell scientist came up with four ways to lose weight without dieting - Quartz

Four different solutions

The four most essential lifestyle changes for adults who want to lose weight are as follows:

1. Make sure the only food on the kitchen counter is a fruit bowl

One of Wansink’s recent “in-home” studies shows that having potato chips visible in the kitchen can add eight more pounds to a woman’s frame than to another woman who didn’t. Women who kept a box of cereal out on the counter weighed 21 lbs. more than those who didn’t. Women who kept a fruit bowl out instead, however, weighed 8 lbs. less than women who did not.

2. At restaurants, order half-size entrees and use the “Rule of Two”

For the Restaurant Indulger, Wansink says, “Use our restaurant ‘Rule of Two:’ Order a reasonable entr?e that sounds good to you, and choose only two other items to go with it. It can be an appetizer and a glass of wine, a bread roll and a dessert, two bread rolls, etc. This will lead you to choose the two items you want the most without feeling deprived.” Do this, and you’ll eat 21-23% fewer calories, Wansink’s findings show.

3. In the grocery store, fill the front of your cart with fruits and veggies

It’s the “we eat what we see” theory in action. Also, chew gum. Shoppers who kept their mouths busy with sugarless gum while shopping bought 7% less junk food, Wansink and his colleagues found in another study.

4. If you work outside the house, commit to not eating at your desk

Ask your workplace to help you by offering healthful choices and free fruit in break rooms or cafeterias. Also, pay with cash. Wansink reports that people who pay with cash at work buy fewer sodas and desserts.


Forum Supporter
Aug 5, 2004
In the past, I have used the freezer to store extras of high-calorie "goodies" as well as a way to cut back on trips to the grocery store for fresh fruit, etc.

Related article:

29 Surprising Foods You Can Freeze -- GE Appliances

Use your freezer to store everything from broth to baked goods to cut down on waste. Here are unexpected items to store in the freezer.

Avocados: Mash, add a splash of lemon juice, and then store in a freezer-safe container.

Bacon: Store it raw in individual portions.

Bananas: Stash whole, in peels, to use in baked goods or smoothies.

Berries: Freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and then stash in individual-size plastic bags to use in smoothies, yogurt, or baking recipes.

Bread: Store in the bag and pull out slices as needed.

Butter: Stash in its original packaging, a plastic bag, or a freezer-safe container.

Buttermilk, milk, and sour cream: Freeze in recipe-appropriate amounts–say, 1 cup or one-half cup–then defrost as needed to use in baking (neither buttermilk nor milk will be suitable for drinking after freezing).

Cake and cupcakes: Whole or in individual portions, these baked goods can stay safely in freezer-safe wraps or bags for several months.

Chicken broth: Pour into an ice cream tray and freeze, or measure out useable portions and store in freezer-safe containers or plastic bags.

Chips: Score a bunch of extra bags? Toss them in the freezer and remove as needed.

Chocolate: Instead of stashing chocolate directly in the freezer, place it in the fridge for about a day in a freezer-safe bag or container. Then place in the freezer. Reverse the process when you need to use it: Take it out of the freezer and store in the fridge for 24 hours, then use (or eat) as needed.

Coffee: Freeze your extras in ice cube trays and store in a freezer-safe container; it makes great iced coffee on hot days.

Corn on the cob: It's best frozen just-picked and can be stored with husks in releasable plastic bags.

Eggs: Nope, not in their shells. Cracked, whipped a little, and stored in the freezer, eggs stay fresh for cooking or baking.

Flour: Although most people use flour before it goes bad, if you score an oversize bag, store it in the freezer to keep it as fresh as possible.

Fresh herbs: Wash, pat dry, and then store in resealable plastic bags.

Garlic: Store whole, still in the peel; break off pieces as needed.

Ginger: Wrap it well, then store in the freezer for future use.

Grapes: They can't be eaten after defrosting, but frozen grapes on warm summer days are like a better-for-you freezer pop. Freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet, then store in a plastic bag.

Nuts: Like flour, nuts will keep well in the freezer.

Pasta sauce: Make too much? Stash it in the freezer.

Pesto: Use an ice cube tray to freeze individual portions; if it's homemade, leave out the cheese before freezing.

Rice, grains, and pasta: Although it must be cooked first, rice and grains can be safely frozen. To reheat any of these, simply add a bit of water and microwave.

Tortillas: To use after freezing, wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave as needed.

Defrosting reminder: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the best way to defrost anything is in the refrigerator overnight. To quickly thaw, you can use your microwave but carefully monitor the item to compensate for any minor cooking that happens.
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