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The Habituation Diet

food_rut
Food Rut = 27% Fewer Calories Consumed 

We all know the dreaded diet plateau: Despite our best efforts, the scale simply won’t budge. Could eating the same meal day after day jump start weight loss? New research suggests meal monotony might be a way to bore the pounds away. 

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition monitored the calorie intake of 32 overweight women who ate the same lunch and dinner five days running. Even though the meal in question was not exactly diet fare — macaroni and cheese — those on the dullness diet ended up consuming 27% fewer calories. Researchers call this habituation. Basically, participants got used to the meal, and once the novelty of the food wore off, they had less desire to eat it. 

Previous research indicates that TOO much variety — think all-you-can-eat-buffet — can be too much of a good thing. We tend to eat more when lots of options are on display. On the flip side, eating a varied diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables is the best way to cover your nutrition needs. 

So, how might you healthfully incorporate habituation into your diet regimen? 

For long term results, we recommend keeping the variety when it comes to plant-based foods, but limiting the “indulgence” foods to just one or two. If your Friday dessert is the same cookie week after week, pretty soon you just won’t want that cookie anymore. And of course, employ best practices of all successful, long term “losers”: daily weigh-ins, exercise, limited liquid calories (that includes wine, friends!), and adequate sleep.

 Published August 1, 2012

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