Eat less, move more? Yes, we all received the memo. The reality is, we also know that it is rarely that simple and, if it was, there would be very little obesity in the world.

If you want to lose weight, it often comes down to psychology as well as nutrition and exercise. Here, we look at the ways you can outsmart the natural tendencies that can derail your weight-loss efforts.

Have you ever announced you are going on a diet, only to suddenly crave chocolate and other “forbidden foods” very soon afterwards?

Dr Rick Kausman, author of If Not Dieting, Then What? (Allen&Unwin, $29.95), says just thinking about going on a diet can leave people feeling deprived. Consequently, when you imagine you feel deprived of the physical and emotional pleasurable effects of food, the brain will seek out the missing link.

On top of that, if you have an all-or-nothing approach to dieting where you determine you must be strict with no slip-ups, you're at high risk of binging. If you binge, you feel like you may as well give up because you have violated the “rules” of the diet, he says. This is a cycle that yo-yo dieters know all too well.

Calling yourself fat, lazy or undisciplined is not the way to achieve your goals. It is just going to make you feel bad about yourself and powerless to change.

A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found a strong link between improvements in body image and changes in eating behaviours. In fact, the weight-loss group who received training in body image and comfort eating lost more than the weight-loss group who received solely nutrition and general health instruction.

You are excited and ready to start a new week on a diet, exercising most days and definitely not eating naughty foods. It is tempting to feel overexcited. This is D-Day, you think. If this sounds familiar, you might be setting yourself up for a fall.

In her book, Losing the Last 5kg (Random House, $27.95), accredited practising dietitian Susie Burrell noted that most of her clients who had kept weight off long term were not the ones on strict regimes. Instead, they were the ones who made small but significant changes to their lives.

A bit of exercise, a few dietary and behavioural changes, and these changes will add up to long-term success, she says.

Do it for your mind and health rather than immediate weight loss. According to Tara Diversi and Adam Fraser, authors of The Good Enough Diet (Wiley, $29.95), getting a little physical activity will leave you feeling more optimistic and energetic — not to mention the numerous studies that show exercise can ward off depression.

Secondly, the authors state that losing weight through dieting alone will result in a loss of bone density and muscle tissue. And you need muscle tissue to maintain your weight loss and avoid falling into the yo-yo dieting cycle again, they said.

The dish you use has a huge impact on the amount of food you consume. Researchers at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab revealed that large plates and bowls can make the amount of food on it seem smaller, with study participants — who were all nutrition experts — eating 31 per cent more ice-cream out of a larger bowl than a smaller one.

The same team of researchers found that the lower the colour contrast between the food and the plate, the more food a participant would serve themselves. So avoid putting white food on a white plate or red pasta sauce on a red plate.

What would batman eat?

Ask a child this question.

Despite favourite cartoon characters and superheroes plastered all over cereal boxes and fast food packaging, it turns out children associate admirable models with a healthy lifestyle.

A 2012 study found that children, when asked, were more likely to believe their hero would choose an apple over French fries. The researchers suggest this could help them make a connection between being healthy and an admirable adult.


© The West Australian

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