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Change how, not what, you eat to get in shape

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Catherine Zeta-Jones may be looking particularly slender lately, after an award-winning turn on Broadway, but getting in shape depends on how you eat as much as what you eat... 

21 JUNE 2010

Catherine Zeta-Jones has been looking particularly slender recently – which isn’t surprising considering the work involved in her Tony award-winning role in Broadway’s A Little Night Music.

But weight loss doesn’t just depend on gruelling regimes and deprivation. The size of your plate could be just as important to staying in shape as what you put on it, according to an American professor and food psychologist who has conducted a three-month study into the eating habits of 200 slimmers.

Dr Brian Wansink of Cornell University in the US told the Experimental Biology Conference that eating from a smaller plate, rearranging cupboards to make treats difficult to reach and avoiding distractions while eating can make a significant difference to weight loss results.

"We found that dieters who were given stylized environmental tips – such as using a ten-inch plate, moving the sweet dish or rearranging their cupboards – stuck to their diets an average of two more days per month," he said.

"If a person was able to follow a tip for at least 20 days each month, changes really started to happen." His advice includes:

*Serving up food ready plated rather than putting dishes of food on the table reduces the number of times someone refills their plate and reduces calorie intake by 20 per cent – 29 per cent less for men

*Eating off smaller plates or bowls and drinking out of tall, thin glasses rather than short, wide ones fools the brain into wanting less food or drink. Moving from a 12-inch to ten-inch dinner plate encourages people to eat 22 per cent less food.

*Rearranging cupboards and fridges so that tempting foods are more difficult to reach. "Quite simply, it is a case of out of sight, out of mind," the professor points out.

*Focus on your food. People who listen to the radio while eating consume 15 per cent more than those who don’t. And sit next to the slowest eater to help reduce the amount you consume.

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