By Dr. Bo Rosenblat
Chief Physician for Dr. Bo’s Diet
If you think losing weight is all about what you eat, think again. Weight loss most often boils down to why you eat. If you struggle with willpower, poor choices, or lack of discipline around food, you can probably improve the outcome of your efforts by using all five of your senses to lose weight. The simple act of eating has an effect on each of our five senses. Likewise, our senses have an impact on what we choose to eat. Below are my top tips and techniques for each sense and how you can use it to your advantage.
What we see has a tremendous effect on what we do. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” has been scientifically proven as an effective strategy for weight loss. While it’s a good idea to try keeping healthier options at eye level in your pantry and refrigerator and less-healthy options more hidden, there is one step you can try before you even open the fridge or pantry. On the door, hang a picture that motivates you.
While everyone will be motivated by something different, it could be a picture of yourself at a healthier weight, an ad for a dress or article of clothing you plan on wearing to a special event, or even a brochure for a vacation you plan on taking. Keeping your eyes on your goal will help you remember the hard work you’ve put in thus far, keeping you on track. Placing the picture front and center will help ensure that you see it first when you go to grab a snack or meal for yourself or someone else.
One thing I don’t advise posting is a picture of someone else’s physique. You can only be you in this life. Don’t waste your mental energy trying to attain someone else’s body; instead focus on creating the best and healthiest version of yourself!
You most likely know that a delicious scent can wilt your willpower. You’re not the first person to ditch your diet due to the smell of freshly baked brownies. But there is good news about your nose–it can help you lose weight too. Certain smells can trigger positive behaviors. A 2012 study revealed that strong smells such as garlic, onion, and bold spices actually cause you to take smaller bites and eat more slowly.
Essentially, your sniffer is warning your taste buds that your food may be hot and spicy, and this slows you down instinctively. Additionally, science has also shown that foods with a “neutral” sweet smell can lessen your appetite when cravings hit. Smelling green apples, grapefruit, or bananas can help you stave off a binge. Bonus: When you finish smelling them, you can eat them too!
If you’re stressed about your physical appearance and concerned about losing weight, the first thing to do is to relax. Stress often creates a weight problem and almost always exacerbates one. Physical touch, such as massage or reflexology, can ease your mind and also has proven physical benefits, aiding weight loss as well. Weight loss is as good an excuse as any to get a massage!
Even if you don’t want to spend the time or money getting a professional massage, you can still get the weight-loss benefits at home. The ancient practice of Chinese stomach massage has been shown to be an effective tool, coupled with proper nutrition and exercise, to aid in weight loss. Abdominal massage reduces constipation, increases circulation, and, when done consistently, is thought to perk up a sluggish digestive system.
To try it yourself, twice daily lie flat on your back, warm your hands by rubbing them together for about 15 seconds, then beginning from your navel, rub your abdomen outward in a circular motion. Your massage should be firm but comfortable. Typically people will experience an increase in bowel movements and a decrease in stomach pain within about a week. An added bonus to this gentle technique is a flatter, less bloated stomach.
The most obvious of the five senses in the battle of the bulge is taste. We have five categories of taste: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savory. While our almost universal cultural love of sweet foods stems from infancy–think mother’s milk–our addiction to sugar and sweeteners has exploded in recent history. Oreos taste delicious, but we didn’t come out of the womb eating them. So how can we develop our tastes for healthier food?
Taste buds have the ability to reset. If you think you don’t like vegetables, it may just be that you haven’t given yourself the chance to like them. By overwhelming your taste buds with hypersweet foods like cake, cookies, and candy, less-sweet foods such as apples or strawberries don’t trigger the same pleasure centers in your brain.
If, however, you significantly cut back on a high-sugar, high-salt diet in favor of a more balanced plant-based diet, you would see a noticeable shift in your cravings and taste preferences. Generally speaking, it takes about three weeks for the shift to occur, so be patient with yourself and keep trying new things–you never know what you might begin to like.
Most people are sensitive to the way they speak to others, but do you listen to the way you speak to yourself? Is your dieting style all about no, can’t, and don’t? By repeatedly speaking to yourself in the negative–“no dessert,” “I can’t eat that,” and “I don’t like this”–you are unconsciously reinforcing an underlying theme: eating healthy is a negative thing. While consciously we know nothing can be further from the truth, this practice can make being on a diet seem like a punishment. When you tell yourself you’re miserable, you’re going to feel miserable.
Instead, try to practice self-affirming and positive language. The words you say (and think) affect your success and attitude around your diet. By expressing out loud (or in your head) the positives of the changes you’re making rather than the negatives, you can alter the outcome of your efforts.
Studies have shown that the happier you feel, the more likely you are to stick with new healthy habits. If you catch yourself saying “I can’t eat that,” try “I’m proud of myself for making healthy choices.” Instead of “I hate dieting,” try “I love how I look and feel after I eat well.”
By focusing on the positive outcome of your choices and the self-discipline you’re exercising rather than the restrictions or deprivation you’re feeling, you can think yourself thinner. v
Dr. Bo Rosenblat is a board-certified medical doctor and chief physician of Dr. Bo’s Diet Center, with office locations in Hewlett and Manhasset. For more information about Dr. Bo’s Diet program, please call 516-284-8248 or visit www.DrBosDiet.com.