Even if the paleo diet per se isn’t the best diet for weight loss, my experience shows that it can mold your approach to food so that weight is easier to take off and keep off. For one thing, if you keep only paleo foods in your house, you create a food environment that helps you avoid the kind of binge eating that endangers your waistline.
Eliminating the junk
One of the best pieces of advice you can follow when trying to improve your diet and your health is to eliminate most of the non-paleo junk foods you have in the house. If they’re not available in your cupboard and not at hand on your counter, you face less temptation to indulge in them in weak moments.
If you’re sitting at home bored and cranky, you can face an irresistible urge to snack on the chips or other nutrition-poor food in your cupboards. The stronger the temptation, research on snacking shows, the more likely you are to eat badly.
It’s a pretty simple concept: If junk foods are not in the house, you are less likely to indulge.
If you want to keep snacks in the house, you should keep healthy snacks (fruits, vegetables, nuts) around to keep yourself from getting too hungry.
Ironically, when you keep mostly healthy food in your house, according to researchers, it doesn’t make you long for the days of junk food. Instead, the presence of healthier items makes you feel better about your healthy choices.
Studies at the University of Leeds, in England, shows that seeing, smelling and eating healthy food can help you make better eating choices and, if you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll eat less food as well. But if you have tempting treats in the house, like cookies, cake and chips, it becomes more difficult keeping them out of your mouth.
The Leeds researchers note that the healthy foods that people associate with healthier diets, like salads and fruit, can remind you of your long-term health goals and help buttress your self-control.
In one of their studies, these scientists asked women to smell fresh oranges or smell chocolate and then write about the memories awakened by these odors.
The scientists found that women who were dieting to lose weight ate 60 percent less chocolate after smelling fresh oranges compared to when the smell of chocolate was in the air. On the other hand, people who weren’t on special diets ate about the same amount no matter what they smelled before eating.
The researchers found that merely seeing pictures of healthy food helped folks make better eating choices.
And when they performed a study of what happened when people ate healthier foods, they found that dieters didn’t binge and better resisted the temptation to eat junk foods and sweets.
As the Leeds researchers note, “When tempted by food, dieters should take a few moments to focus on the sensory properties of healthy food, such as the sight and smell of fruit or salad vegetables. Such healthy food cues can provide an instant reminder to dieters to regulate their intake.”
According to researcher Nicola Buckland: “Increasing the presence of healthy foods in places where overeating is most likely to happen, such as the fridge, kitchen cupboards and on the desk at work, may help remind dieters to limit their food intake.”
Beware the booze
Unfortunately, alcoholic beverages represent another serious threat to healthier eating habits. Although moderate drinking is good for your health (as long as you have no more than a drink or two a few times a week), research at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom shows that the biggest threats to a healthy diet includes late-night food cravings, the temptation of alcohol indulgence and friends who have unhealthy food habits.
In this study of 80 people who were dieting, the researchers found that temptations to go off their diets led to binges about 50 percent of the time.
The study found that dieters are most likely to go off their diet because of an alcohol habit. Their willpower is also weakened when others are present.
So do yourself a favor. Make your home a haven for eating healthy foods. The long-term benefits are visible just behind your belt.