We’ve All Been Told What Foods To Eat For Weight Loss
Most of us while surfing the net have seen those ads that pop up suggesting specific weight loss foods.
- “Lose weight by eating these 10 foods”
- “5 fruits to avoid for weight loss” (almost always accompanied by a picture of a banana)
- “Super foods that flatten belly fat”
In most cases the lists are similar: Pro vegetables, fruits, nuts, and lean proteins, while anti bread, fried food, and of course, don’t eat sugar. Surprise, surprise.
Weight Management: It’s More Than What You Do Or Don’t Eat
I would argue that for most, weight loss struggles aren’t just because we are choosing the wrong foods; weight management is so much more complicated than “eat this, not that.” However, those lists are out there and most of us would be lying if we said we’ve never clicked on a link to see what these magical weight loss inducing foods are. But here’s my real question about these lists of weight loss foods. If they really worked, how consistent would we be in choosing them? If I told you that you “should” eat celery, grapefruit, oat bran, etc., because these foods would melt fat away, would you be excited about eating them?
Study Shows That Being Told What To Eat Doesn’t Motivate Us
What I’m getting at here is that people may be less likely to be motivated to do something when they are TOLD TO, versus being given a choice to do it. To illustrate this effect, take a look at the bar graph in this post. This figure is from a study published in the Journal of Food Quality and Preference. In this figure the bar graphs represent total vegetable intake, with a goal of encouraging the consumption of vegetables. The children were given 3 options:
- Bar 1: a predetermine portion of one kind of vegetable
- Bar 2: the ability to self select the vegetable they wanted to eat
- Bar 3: two vegetable choices on their plate
Now kids are not known for their love of vegetables, so I find it fascinating that when given a choice they decided to eat the most veggies.
The Rebellion Response To Food Choice Restriction
No one likes to be told what to eat. Following a list of foods to eat and foods to avoid may feel like you’re being told what to do. You may feel like don’t have a choice. Enter the rebellion response. The rebellion response — doing the opposite of what you’re being pressured to do — seems to have been triggered for the kids given no choice. We can trigger it for ourselves as well, by trying to follow rigid eating patterns.
How do you respond to “eat this not that” type of lists? Are they useful, harmful, or pointless?