Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Repetition Can Lead to Weight Loss

You know how your favourite song can turn to your least favourite when it gets played too often, causing you to change the radio station in frustration? Or how when you watch the same TV show episode too many times or you take the same route to work or school every day it becomes so boring you just don't want to do it anymore? Interestingly enough, researchers have found that the same is true when it comes to food; even your favourite food can become so boring that you don't want to eat it for a while and it doesn't thrill you anymore. Yes, even if it's pizza or ice cream.

I have always found it interesting to hear people talk about how they don't flip over pizza, pasta, cookies or pie in the least bit because they have always been readily available for them since they were little kids. Sure, they taste good, but unlike the rest of us who might eat the whole box in one go, they can have a couple of bites and be done with it like it's yesterday's news. On that same note, remember the time you were sick for a while, or that one Halloween where you ate too much candy or ice cream or jello and you still can't stomach whatever you had been eating? Funny enough, that's what researchers at the University of Buffalo have studied and they found that repetition might actually help with weight loss, simply because the familiar gets boring.

The study that will be published in the August issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was relatively simple and not particularly realistic in nature (in my opinion, and as you might also decide), but it proves a good point. There were two groups of women - obese and nonobese - which were each divided into two groups. Both groups were allowed unlimited helpings of macaroni and cheese, however one group came each day for lunch for five days, while the other came only once a week for lunch for 5 weeks. It was found that the groups who ate it every day reduced their portion sizes and intakes of lunch as the days went by, and as they became increasingly bored by the same old thing. The portion sizes in the other groups, on the other hand, increased.

While this study highlights and important point and potentially useful strategy when it comes to weight loss, the researchers don't yet know how much time or exposure would be ideal for a person to avoid gorging on the food in question but also avoid the other extreme of finding a similar high-calorie substitute. Clearly, this variable will be different for each person and will also depend on their particular preferences and cravings.

In the meantime, just keep in mind that avoiding foods cold turkey usually makes us more prone to gorging on them as soon as we lay eyes on them, which is why deprivation in one's diet never works! Treat yourself once in awhile and play around with this strategy on your own to find out what works for you!