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FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD: Much ado about carbohydrates, the secret to building an exercise habit, and how to kill a cold

by | Sep 16, 2016
For the Love of Food

For the Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup. 

This week much ado about carbohydrates, the secret to building an exercise habit, and how to kill a cold.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

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Why I’ll Never Tell You to Eat “Heart Healthy” Foods

by | Mar 18, 2015

Photo by Rubyran

If you want a glimpse of hell you needn’t look any further than my inbox. Every day, without fail, I receive dozens of pitches from people that would love to hijack my site to serve their own purposes.

Whether it’s PR firms trying to get me to mention their clients’ crappy products or spammy content marketers pitching horrible and pointless articles to get some SEO juice from a respected site. I’ve seen everything. You might not realize this, but one of my many jobs is to protect you guys from the onslaught of BS the internet is trying to hurl at you.

What’s interesting though is that so many of the guest post pitches I receive rely on exactly the same formula. It goes something like this:

_(insert number)_ Essential _(insert food or nutrient)_ for a Healthy _(insert body part)_

Clearly this formula works on many health and nutrition bloggers, or all the content marketing folks wouldn’t be using it. But it also embodies everything I despise about nutritionism and the misleading health advice we’ve been fed for the past half century.

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Why I’ll Never Tell You to Eat “Heart Healthy” Foods

by | Apr 21, 2014

Photo by Rubyran

If you want a glimpse of hell you needn’t look any further than my inbox. Every day, without fail, I receive dozens of pitches from people that would love to hijack my site to serve their own purposes.

Whether it’s PR firms trying to get me to mention their clients’ crappy products or spammy content marketers pitching horrible and pointless articles to get some SEO juice from a respected site. I’ve seen everything. You might not realize this, but one of my many jobs is to protect you guys from the onslaught of BS the internet is trying to hurl at you.

What’s interesting though is that so many of the guest post pitches I receive rely on exactly the same formula. It goes something like this:

_(insert number)_ Essential _(insert food or nutrient)_ for a Healthy _(insert body part)_

Clearly this formula works on many health and nutrition bloggers, or all the content marketing folks wouldn’t be using it. But it also embodies everything I despise about nutritionism and the misleading health advice we’ve been fed for the past half century.

Read the rest of this story »

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10 Simple Ways To Eat Less Without Noticing

by | Oct 14, 2013

Photo by Idle Type

What you eat is important, but even healthy food can stop you from losing weight if you eat too much of it.

I never recommend extreme calorie restriction (most people aren’t very good at it anyway), but there are some tricks you can use to slightly reduce the amount of food you eat without feeling deprived, or even really noticing.

Your brain is easily fooled by shifts in perspective. It’s also more responsive to external cues like an empty plate, than internal cues like a full stomach. Understanding these influences can show you how to tilt them in your favor.

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3 Surprising Factors That Influence What (and how much) You Eat

by | Apr 4, 2012

Photo by ajleon

Andrianes Pinantoan is a psychology writer and editor for InformEd. You can follow him at his personal blog, Journey To Earth

We all like to think of ourselves as rational beings who are in control of everything we do. Yet study after study shows otherwise.

To illustrate this Dr. BJ Fogg, founder of Stanford University’s Persuasion Technology Lab, said that for a particular behaviour to occur, three things must happen at the same time: you must have the motivation to do something, you must have the ability to do it and you must be triggered to do it.

You probably already knew about motivations and ability, but did you know that if you have competing motivations (e.g. staying healthy vs eating junk food), the one that gets triggered wins?

What are triggers?

Darya wrote about this in Summer Tomato’s most popular post, 10 Simple Ways To Eat Less Without Noticing. In the post, she explains Brian Wansink’s work about how the size of your plate, distractions, and other external factors influence how much you eat. These external factors are called triggers because you don’t think about them consciously or rationally.

Here are three more environmental triggers that influence what (and how much) you eat, that few people consciously think about.

3 Surprising Factors That Influence What (and how much) You Eat

by Andrianes Pinantoan

1. Your friends

Researcher Solomon Asch once conducted a study on social influence. He found that if the someone is alone when asked to find an answer to a simple question, only 1 person out of 35 gets it wrong. But when a group of people are asked the question at the same time and some of them are planted to intentionally give wrong answers, 75% of all participants choose to ignore their eyes and give at least one wrong answer. That is a huge number, and demonstrates how powerful social pressure can be to influence your decisions.

A later study found that as your friends start to gain weight, so will you. And this is not just a case of birds of the same feather flocking together, this possibility was controlled for in the experiment.

If you intend to live a healthy lifestyle but you’re around people who eat chips on a daily basis, you’re constantly being triggered. These friends are not necessarily pressuring you into eating chips, but that doesn’t stop you from grabbing a handful yourself.

Luckily there is some good news: self-awareness can reduce the power of these triggers tremendously. Recognise that you are being triggered and choose a different, equally rewarding action to perform instead.

2. The media

“Who falls for this stuff?” my friend jeered. It was not a question. He was watching an ad for Mars and the voiceover was talking about how delicious the chocolate bar was.

It’s a classic case of the third-person effect. The third-person effect states that a person who is exposed to persuasive communication sees it as having a greater effect on others than on him or herself. And that, in turn, causes us to let our guards down.

What we assume, of course, is that advertisements are there to tell us about the benefits of the product. So if we tune that out, it should fade away.

But advertisements actually do more than this. They often associate the product with something you feel positively about like a celebrity, babies, love, respect, etc. And by forging that association, they can transfer the feelings you have from one thing to another. It’s what psychologists call affective conditioning.

But it’s not just advertisements you need to worry about in the media. News headlines are also crafted to be sensational. Psychologists now know that news triggers the emotional part of our brain, which is of course, largely uncontrollable. This is why when a newscaster talks about the latest and greatest diet, you inevitably feel an impulse to try it out.

When you are confronted with news or ads that sound promising or exciting, force yourself to go through the process of “considering the opposite.” Thinking about how likely it is that the news is wrong can help mitigate the good feelings you had initially for the information and weaken your subconscious attraction to the idea.

3. Packaging

Advertisements don’t end with the media, unfortunately. Another common form of advertisement that people simply don’t think of as advertisements is product packaging.

So effective is packaging at influencing our behaviour that, depending on which study you see, impulse purchases are responsible for 20% to 60% of our grocery shopping. And we all know that few of those impulse buys are for packageless broccoli or spinach.

Packaging can also influence our behaviour via the “halo effect.” The halo effect is a cognitive bias that makes us extrapolate the value of a particular trait over other traits of the same product. For example, people tend to perceive “organic” as good, so by labeling deep-fried chips as “organic” marketers can create the perception that they are healthy even though they have just as many calories as conventional chips. As a result, people consume more overall calories when a food is labelled with a health claim than when there is no label at all.

Being vigilant of how these environmental triggers are affecting your behavior can help you dampen their effects and make better choices.

What’s causing you to eat more than you realize?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Apr 15, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

This is probably the best week of the year so far for food and health writing. Taubes’ provocative piece on sugar and its possible role in cancer is a must read. Also check out the latest consensus on saturated fat, the power of exercise, and the lovely ingredient found in processed ice creams.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links at Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Sep 24, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Many thoughtful stories on the internets this week. I love JC’s piece on clean eating and food dogma. And if you’re curious about genetically modified salmon or other foods, I’ve included some very informative links. Enjoy 🙂

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete reading list join me on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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