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One Simple Secret To Retaining Self-Control


Buffets are often enough to derail most well-meaning of healthy eaters. However, it has been found that your ability to resist temptation is all about the order in which you eat your food.






A simple experiment was carried out by two Doctors, in which they arranged two buffet breakfast tables. These tables were at opposites sides of the room, and the food items were arranged in opposite order to one another. Table 1 started with the fattiest choices, such as cheesy eggs and fried potatoes, and finished with yoghurt and fruit. Whereas, table 2 was arranged with the fruit first, followed by the yoghurt and finished with the cheesy eggs.

124 individuals were split randomly between the two buffet tables, and were told they could only visit the buffet once.

Researchers found that what and how much people ate depended on the order in which food is presented to them. Researcher, Dr Wansink stated ‘The first three food items a person encountered in the buffet comprised 66% of their total plate, regardless of whether the items were high or low-calorie foods.’  Throughout all of the individuals involved in the experiment, 65.7% of their plate was filled with at least one of the first three food items presented to them.

To reflect this, 86.4% of individuals chose fruit when it was presented to them first, but only 54.8% took fruit when it was their final food option. Likewise, 75.4% took cheesy eggs when they were the first food option, but only 28.8% chose them when they were the final option.

Not only did starting with high calorie foods make each person more likely to continue to choose high calorie options, they also ate on average 31% more food than those who were presented with fruit and yoghurt initially.

Researchers describe this behaviour as the ‘trigger effect’; this is something we are all guilty of. Making one poor food choice is more likely to lead to further poor food choices – as shown in this experiment.

So when you are confronted by a buffet, start with the healthy choices, as statistically you are more likely to continue to make good food choices and your plate will on average, be 66% filled with healthy food!

This habit can obviously be transferred to every day living. Think of the supermarket as a buffet - pile your trolley high with fruit, veg, lean proteins and low GI carbohydrates such as whole wheat bread and sweet potatoes. By doing this you are setting yourself up for success, and making it that much less tempting to chuck in the processed items that aren’t on your list.


How a little self discipline could make you a happier person..

Learn how to eat like an expert!

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