TIME Diet/Nutrition

A Tale of Two Turkeys: Wild vs. Supermarket

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Which bird is better?

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Whether you like yours brined or unbrined, stuffed with cornbread or sausage, in drumstick or leftover-sandwich format, it all starts with the turkey. Today’s turkey-lover has two choices: The supermarket bird, an artificially giganticized product of careful breeding and industrial farming methods, and the wild turkey, which hasn’t evolved much since the first Thanksgiving. Here’s a quick visual guide to help you decide which is best for you:

a tale of two turkeys

This article originally appeared on World Science Festival.


This Homer Simpson Statue Made Out of Junk Food Is the Perfect Tribute to Homer Simpson

"Does this make me look fat?"

Some people get a statue, others an honorary plaque. For Homer Simpson, who has for nearly three decades shared with us his low-brow gastronomical obsessions, it doesn’t get any more fitting than a replica fashioned from junk food.

Mandatory.com constructed “The Essence of Homer,” complete with Duff Beer, from gummy bears, powdered doughnuts, licorice, marshmallows, saltwater taffy and pancakes. The video is part of a series called “Fast Food Formations” (they also constructed a football stadium out of Slim Jims and balogna sandwiches), the gluttonous messages of which the site counters with a donation to a charity that aims to end childhood hunger.

There’s no one who deserves his likeness made from doughnuts more than the man who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for a single frosted doughnut.


‘Food Chains’ Doc Sheds Light on America’s Farmworkers

Forest Whitaker narrates documentary produced by Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser and actress Eva Longoria

A new documentary about the farmworkers who pick America’s harvest was released Friday in selected markets.

“Food Chains,” produced by actress Eva Longoria and Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser, primarily tells the story of a labor dispute between tomato pickers in Immokalle, Florida, and the Publix supermarket chain. That dispute is the origin of the Fair Food Program, a voluntary initiative to raise wages and working conditions for farmworkers.

“What we bring with the Fair Food Program is not another model of corporate social responsibility, because the goal is not to make any corporation legit,” says farmworker and organizer Gerardo Chavez in the film. “The goal is to address human rights and labor rights that exist in the fields. The creation of the program comes directly from the participation of the workers in the program and the ideas of our community. That’s what we call worker-led social responsibility.”


Holiday Ham May Be Pricier Than Ever

A deadly virus killed millions of piglets.

Ham might take a bigger cut out of your budget this holiday season.

Prices have soared to a record high this fall ahead of the holidays—when half of total ham consumption occurs—after a devastating virus shrank the number of hogs slaughtered this year by more than five percent, Bloomberg reports.

The price has been pushed up further because farmers have fed their hogs more to fatten them up and make up for losses caused by the virus; while fatter pigs mean more meat, their hind legs can grow too large for the seven-pound spiral-cut, half hams popular during the holidays.

Read more at Bloomberg

TIME TIME for Thanks

José Andrés: What I’m Thankful For

Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur Jose Andres photographed at Minibar in Washington, D.C. on May 01, 2014.
Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur Jose Andres photographed at Minibar in Washington, D.C. on May 01, 2014. Marvin Joseph—The Washington Post/Getty Images

This year, as I light my stove to make my Thanksgiving dinner, I will be thankful to have that flame. That clean and clear flame that I’ll use to boil a pot of water for my potatoes, or simmer my turkey gravy; this fire that I have at my fingertips, it’s something we often take for granted. For so many people around the world creating fire, finding the fuel, is an incredibly difficult effort, and it is having a heavy impact on their lives.

I’m thankful that my wife and daughters are able to cook together without it threatening their lives. According to the World Health Organization, over 4 million people around the world, mostly women and children, die prematurely every year from household cooking smoke. The same flame that they need to survive is killing them.

I’m thankful that the money I need for fuels and to cook doesn’t take away from important things my family needs like shelter, medicine and clothing. Because in countries where they rely on inefficient cooking methods, families can spend up to 60% of their incomes just to be able to get fuel and feed themselves.

I’m thankful that my daughters are able to receive an education, and that when they come from school, they can go out outside and play. Because in places like the Sudan, many children spend their whole day outside searching and traveling far from their villages, and from safety, to go and collect fuel, wood and water to use for cooking.

I’m thankful that every time I light my stove to cook a meal, I’m not jeopardizing my environment – the woods, the oceans around me – because where harmful cooking methods are being used, they are damaging their natural habitat, creating deforestation can in turn destroy their livelihoods. And then when the rains come, this rain that is supposed to be giving them life, washes away all of the healthy soil, and this soil pours into the ocean and damages the coral reefs, ruining the ecosystems and their ability to farm, to fish, to create fuel.

I’m thankful that I am able to cook for my family in a clean and safe way. Lighting my stove only takes a couple of seconds and a turn of a knob, but in places where they don’t have adequate access to clean cookstoves, countries like Haiti, or Cambodia, or Kenya, their stoves are creating a cycle of death.

But most importantly, I’m thankful that clean and improved cooking exists. That energy like liquid petroleum gas and solar cookstoves are within reach and can be affordable for all. With all of the problems our world is facing and all of the complicated solutions they have, a humble cookstove and cleaner fuel combinations can change the lives of hundreds of millions of people. It’s one simple solution for us to take.

José Andrés is the Culinary Ambassador for the Global Alliance For Clean Cookstoves and the chef and owner of ThinkFoodGroup with 18 restaurants across the U.S. He is also the founder of the non-profit World Central Kitchen.


TIME Diet/Nutrition

13 Healthy Frozen Dinners

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We tested dozens to find the ones you'll actually want to eat again

The freezer aisle has come a long way in the 60 years since the first TV dinners entered the scene. Instead of Salisbury steak and sad, rubbery peas, today’s microwavable meals are likely to include kale and organic chicken. “The quality and variety are so much better than they were just a few years ago,” says Libby Mills, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “More people are demanding food that is both healthy and environmentally sound, and companies are responding.” In fact, organic and “natural” ready-to-eat meals are projected to become a $2.2 billion business in the U.S. by 2017. But what good is nutritional cred if the offerings taste like airplane food? No worries: We tested dozens to pinpoint the ones you’ll actually want to eat again and again.

HEALTH.COM: 12 Foods That Control Your Appetite

Evol Fire Grilled Steak

Power ingredients: Steak, black beans, cilantro-lime rice, roasted red and green bell peppers and Cheddar cheese with a cilantro-lime pesto
Tester’s take: “Yum! It was just like a takeout burrito bowl but has only 400 calories.”
Key nutritionals: 400 Calories, 3.5g Saturated Fat, 20g Protein, 9g Fiber, 520mg Sodium
($99/12 pack; amazon.com)

Luvo Chicken Chile Verde

Power ingredients: Chicken, polenta and black beans in a punched-up green chile sauce
Tester’s take: “The chicken somehow tasted freshly cooked, and the black beans had a nice al dente quality. The only downside was that it could use something green. Next time, I’ll steam some spinach to serve on the side.”
Key nutritionals: 320 Calories, 4.5g Saturated Fat, 27g Protein, 6g Fiber, 470mg Sodium
($58/10 pack; amazon.com)

HEALTH.COM: Best and Worst Foods to Avoid Bloating

Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake

Power ingredients: Plantains, black beans, sweet potato, kale, Kashi 7 Whole Grains & Sesame Pilaf, amaranth and polenta in a spicy ancho sauce
Tester’s take: “The sweet plantains in the sauce had a nice oomph to them. And the pilaf added a satisfying texture to the meal.”
Key nutritionals: 340 Calories, 2g Saturated Fat, 9g Protein, 8g Fiber, 380mg Sodium
(For stores visit kashi.com)

Saffron Road Chicken Biryani

Power ingredients: Chicken, basmati rice and caramelized onions in Biryani spices
Tester’s take: “It tasted so fresh that I couldn’t believe it came out of a box.”
Key nutritionals: 400 Calories, 2g Saturated Fat, 25g Protein, 3g Fiber, 590mg Sodium
($51/8-pack; amazon.com)

Saffron Road Chana Saag

Power ingredients: Chickpeas and spinach seasoned with ginger and traditional Indian herbs and spices over cumin rice
Tester’s take: “This meal smelled, looked and tasted as if it had come straight out of the kitchen of an Indian restaurant. And it was filling to boot.”
Key nutritionals: 420 Calories, 1.5g Saturated Fat, 12g Protein, 8g Fiber, 590mg Sodium
($45/8-pack; amazon.com)

HEALTH.COM: 16 Calorie-Free Flavor Boosters

Lean Cuisine Spa Collection Sesame Stir Fry with Chicken

Power ingredients: Chicken, edamame, broccoli and whole-wheat vermicelli in a sesame sauce
Tester’s take: “Overall, it was fresh and satisfying.”
Key nutritionals: 280 Calories, 1g Saturated Fat, 19g Protein, 5mg Fiber, 480mg Sodium
(Available in select Walmart stores)

Cedar Lane Eggplant Parmesan

Power ingredients: Eggplant filled with roasted vegetables and cheese in a sun-dried-tomato sauce
Tester’s take: “Surprisingly delicious! The eggplant was satisfying, and the sauce was creamy but not at all heavy.”
Key nutritionals: 280 Calories, 5g Saturated Fat, 13g Protein, 5g Fiber, 590mg Sodium
($5; amazon.com)

Luvo Spinach Ricotta Ravioli

Power ingredients: Ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta in a turkey Bolognese sauce
Tester’s take: “This one is a win-win: filling and low-calorie. The turkey Bolognese was nicely seasoned and hearty. The ravioli weren’t bad either! I’d say this meal was actually restaurant-good.”
Key nutritionals: 310 Calories, 2g Saturated Fat, 18 Protein, 4g Fiber, 470mg Sodium
(For stores visit luvoinc.com)

Blake’s Meatloaf Dinner Casserole

Power ingredents: Meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes, peas and gravy
Tester’s take: “The flavors simmered together so nicely. It was hearty but not a ton of food, so I added a side salad.”
Key nutritionals: 310 Calories, 9g Saturated Fat, 11g Protein, 3g Fiber, 350mg Sodium
(Available in select Target stores)

Artisan Bistro Grass-Red Beef in Mushroom Sauce

Power ingredients: Beef and French lentils with a mushroom sauce, edamame, sugar snap peas, sweet potatoes and onions
Tester’s take: “A high-quality meat-and-potatoes dish, it’s perfect for when you walk through the door feeling famished.”
Key nutritionals: 350 Calories, 3.5g Saturated Fat, 23g Protein, 4g Fiber, 580mg Sodium
(Available in select Whole Foods stores)

Luvo Orange Mango Chicken

Power ingredients: Roasted white-meat chicken and mango chunks in a sweet orange sauce with rice, kale and broccoli
Tester’s take: “You might want to season the veggies, but the chicken and mango smothered in a tasty sauce made this meal.”
Key nutritionals: 420 Calories, 1g Saturated Fat, 21g Protein, 4g Fiber, 380mg Sodium
($58/8-pack; amazon.com)

HEALTH.COM: 12 ‘Unhealthy’ Foods Nutritionists Eat

Artisan Bistro Wild Salmon with Pesto

Power ingredients: Wild Alaskan salmon in a basil pesto with chickpea pilaf, zucchini and green beans
Tester’s take: “Reheating frozen seafood in the microwave is tricky, but this worked. It helped that the fish was drizzled with a yummy pesto sauce!”
Key nutritionals: 310 Calories, 2.5g Saturated Fat, 16g Protein, 3g Fiber, 370mg Sodium
(Available in select Whole Foods stores)

Kashi Steam Meal Chicken Chipotle BBQ

Power ingredients: Chicken, green beans, mango, bell peppers and onions in a whole-grain pilaf
Tester’s take: “These steam meals are brilliant. Everything cooked right in the bag and stayed super crisp in the process. On top of that, the sauce had a smoky, spicy flavor that hit all the right notes.”
Key nutritionals: 310 Calories, 1g Saturated Fat, 15g Protein, 6g Fiber, 620mg Sodium
(For stores visit kashi.com)

This article originally appeared on Health.com.


Uh-oh: The World Is Running Out of Chocolate

Chocolate supplies are dwindling, say two of the biggest chocolate manufacturers. Cocoa harvests are down, demand is up, and prices are rising.

The world’s appetite for chocolate is outstripping the supply of the tasty treat. And, unfortunately, the problem is getting worse.

People are now consuming 70,000 more metric tons of cocoa annually than are being produced. By 2020, the gap will grow to 1 million metric tons per year, based on forecasts from Mars and Barry Callebaut, two of the world’s largest chocolate makers.

What’s to blame? Dwinding supply of cocoa beans from which chocolate is made, according to reports from the Washington Post and Bloomberg. Among the culprits: Dry weather in Ghana and Ivory Coast, which produce a majority of the world’s cocoa, along with fungal diseases affecting cocoa plantations.

The problem is also due to chocolate’s increasing popularity; demand is growing in China, and there’s more of a demand for dark chocolate, which comprises more cocoa per bar than milk chocolate.

Hershey Raises Candy Prices 8%
What’s the Best Candy to Buy? Ask a Kid

TIME Diet/Nutrition

6 Ways You’re Using Olive Oil Wrong

Bubbles in olive oil
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A slightly bitter taste can indicate the presence of antioxidants

Everyone knows olive oil is great for your health and a staple of the Mediterranean diet. But even though it’s now found in most kitchens, it’s still steeped in mystery and confusion. Read on for some of the biggest mistakes people make with olive oil, and how to use it correctly.

1. You buy the “light” version to save calories

All olive oils have roughly the same amount of calories and fat (about 120 calories and 14g fat per tablespoon). “Light” refers to the color and flavor of this oil, which is highly refined to make it more neutral than other types of olive oil.

HEALTH.COM: 9 Low-Fat Foods You Shouldn’t Eat

2. You’re afraid to cook with the extra-virgin stuff.

It’s true that extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point than other types of olive oil and some other fats—that is, the temperature where oil begins to smoke and impart an unpleasant odor and flavor (peanut oil is 450ºF and grapeseed is 445ºF, for example. For more, check out this chart on Serious Eats). Extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point around 410ºF, according to The Science of Good Food, so it’s perfectly safe for sautéing at medium temperatures. Extra virgin is the purest form of olive oil, and contains the most health supportive oleic acid so there’s no need to use it only for salad dressing.

3. You toss any that tastes slightly bitter.

Don’t toss that oil just yet: it may not have gone bad. A slightly bitter taste can indicate the presence of antioxidants, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis, Olive Center. With a fresh extra virgin olive oil, you should taste, well, olives, and also some grassy or fruity notes.

HEALTH.COM: 10 Signs Your House Is Making You Fat

4. You keep it right next to the stove.

Nothing will make your olive oil go rancid quicker than heat and light. Look for olive oil in a dark-colored glass or tin container, and store it in a cool spot, away from sunlight.

5. You stock up when you see a great deal.

Unless you’ll use it all quickly, it’s better to buy olive oil in smaller quantities. Ideally you want to use it up within about 6 weeks.

6. You use the “fridge test” to see if yours is high quality.

Sorry, but no. After a 2013 episode of the Dr. Oz Show, in which he claimed you can test to see how pure your olive oil is by refrigerating it (if it solidifies in the fridge, it’s pure), UC Davis researchers put the fridge test to the test, and it flunked. That is, if an olive oil turns to a solid at lower temperatures, it doesn’t mean it’s of higher quality.

The best way to ensure your oil is good quality? Look for seals on the bottle from the USDA Quality Monitoring Program, the North American Olive Oil Association, the California Olive Oil Council, or the Extra Virgin Alliance.

HEALTH.COM: 14 Clever Cooking Hacks That Will Change Your Life

This article originally appeared on Health.com

TIME psychology

How to Get in Shape Using Psychology: 6 New Tricks From Research

Bathroom scale on white tile floor.
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Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Why is there an obesity epidemic? It’s not because we eat the wrong things or we lack exercise.

Research shows that, plain and simple, most of us just eat too much:

Reported consumption increased by 268 calories for men and 143 calories for women between the two surveys. This increase is more than enough to explain the increase in steady-state weight… The available evidence suggests that calories expended have not changed significantly since 1980, while calories consumed have risen markedly.

That’s hardly shocking.

But what’s interesting is there’s a way to fix this that doesn’t involve exercise or being deprived of your favorite foods.

No, this is not some silly pitch for low carb, low fat, Crossfit or the magical supplement of the week. Actually, it’s about psychology.

Brian Wansink is a Cornell researcher who studies how we eat. He was appointed by the White House to head up changes to US Dietary Guidelines.

He’s also the author of two fascinating books:

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life

In the course of his research, Brian realized something pretty interesting:we eat for lots of reasons — but usually not because of hunger.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

Everyone — every single one of us — eats how much we eat largely because of what’s around us. We overeat not because of hunger but because of family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers. This list is almost as endless as it’s invisible.

We are slaves to context. We eat because friends are around, because something’s free, because it’s in reach, because things are tasty, etc.

We respond to “food cues” over feelings. What we see is usually more important than what we actually eat. And Wansink wanted to prove this.

One of the things that makes his research so clever is that he’s sneaky.

(If you have the choice of trusting what a used car salesman says or what a psychology researcher tells you before a study, go with the car salesman.)

Wansink rigged bowls to be “bottomless.” A hidden tube made sure that no matter how much soup a subject ate, the bowl would not empty.

Then he fed people. What happened? People with normal bowls ate 15 ounces. Some with the rigged bowls more than a quart.

Except at extremes, what made people “full” was their eyes, not their stomachs. If the bowl didn’t look empty, they kept eating.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

Surely diners realized that they ate more from the refillable bowl? Absolutely not. With a couple of exceptions, such as Mr. Quart Man, people didn’t comment about feeling full. Even though they ate 73 percent more, they rated themselves the same as the others—after all, they only had about half a bowl of soup.

Wansink realized that you can increase or decrease the number of calories someone eats by 20% without them realizing.

He calls this the “mindless margin.” And over a year it can easily cause you to gain or lose ten pounds.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

If we eat way too little, we know it. If we eat way too much, we know it. But there is a calorie range—a mindless margin—where we feel fine and are unaware of small differences. That is, the difference between 1,900 calories and 2,000 calories is one we cannot detect, nor can we detect the difference between 2,000 and 2,100 calories. But over the course of a year, this mindless margin would either cause us to lose ten pounds or to gain ten pounds.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

Yes, we’re slaves to context. But that can be a good thing. By manipulating our environment we can drop 10 pounds (or more) without even noticing it.

So what do we need to do? Here are 6 insights from Wansink’s research that can make getting in shape much, much easier and nearly mindless.

1) Change What’s Visible

You don’t have to throw all that tasty junk food in the trash. But you do have to make sure it’s not sitting out, calling to you all day.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

Out of sight is out of mind. If the candy dish sits on your desk, you consistently have to make a heroic decision whether you will resist the chocolate that has been giving you the eye all day. The easy solution is to lose the dish, move the dish, or replace the candy with something you personally don’t like.

Wansink studied how slim people behave at buffets vs what heavy people do. What was one of the differences?

Slim people were more likely to sit facing away from the buffet, while chubbier people were 3x more likely to sit looking at it.

Via Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life:

Moreover, they were three times more likely to sit facing the food, where they watched all the people who went back for seconds and thirds and fourths. Every time they saw someone take another lap around the stir-fry, it reminded them that was “normal” behavior.

Brian’s Syracuse study revealed that just by looking at what food was visible in a home he could predict what someone weighs.

Via Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life:

“In sight, in stomach.” We eat what we see, not what we don’t. Our Syracuse Study showed that we could roughly predict a person’s weight by the food they had sitting out.

Do you have fruit sitting out visibly in your house? You probably weigh 8lbs less than your neighbor who doesn’t.

Have cookies or chips sitting out? You probably weigh 8lbs more.

Have breakfast cereal sitting out? You probably weigh 19lbs more.

Have soda sitting out? You’re going to weigh, on average, 25lbs more than someone who doesn’t.

Brian discusses it at 55:30 of this video:

(To learn what to eat if you want to look sexier, click here.)

Okay, you’ve hidden the food. But what about when you’re eating? You have to bring the food out then, right?

2) Change What’s Reachable

Brass tacks here, people: Make eating more food a hassle.

Want to start losing weight easily? Use smaller dishes and make sure getting seconds requires you to cross the room.

Keeping serving dishes off the table reduced how much men ate by 29%.

Remember the people at the buffet? Heavy people, on average, sat 16 feet closer to all that delicious food than skinny people did.

Via Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life:

Slim people even acted differently after taking their food. They trotted back to faraway booths along the walls, and— here’s what’s cool— 73 percent faced away from the buffet. Heavy diners did the opposite. They sat at tables that were on average sixteen feet closer to the buffet.

Got candy on your desk at work? That’s probably a double digit increase in your weight, right there.

Via Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life:

People who had candy in or on their desk reported weighing 15.4 pounds more than those who didn’t.

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely is a big believer in context. When I interviewed him he told me a story about Google.

What happened when Google put M&M’s in containers instead of out in the open? People ate 3 million less of them in one month.

Here’s Dan:

Here’s an experiment that Google did recently. The M&Ms in their New York office used to be in baskets. So instead they put them in bowls with lids. The lid doesn’t require a lot of effort to lift but it reduced the number of M&Ms consumed in their New York office by 3 million a month.

(For more on how to build good habits, click here.)

Food is hidden and you’ve made overeating a hassle. But what if that’s not enough?

3) Plan Ahead

The skinny people at the buffet looked at everything, made a plan and then grabbed their food.

The heavy people just dove right in.

Via Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life:

Slim diners “scouted” out the buffet before grabbing a plate— before even picking up a plate, 71 percent of them walked around and scanned the salad bar, the steam trays holding fourteen seemingly identical chicken dishes, the sushi station, and the dessert bar. Only after they figured out the lay of the land did they grab their plate and swoop down to cherry-pick their favorites, with an eagle eye on the stir-fry. Heavier diners did the opposite. They were twice as likely to charge ahead to the nearest stack of plates, take one, and fill it up. They didn’t skip to the foods they really liked. Instead they served themselves a bit of everything they didn’t hate.

Shopping while hungry is a cardinal sin. It doesn’t make us buy more, it just makes us buy junk.

Via Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life:

They don’t buy more, but they buy worse. When we’re hungry, we buy foods that are convenient enough to eat right away and will stop our cravings. We don’t go for broccoli and tilapia; we go for carbs in a box or bag. We go for one of the “Four C’s”: crackers, chips, cereal, or candy. We want packages we can open and eat with our right hand while we drive home with our left.

Anything that distracts us causes us to eat more because we aren’t paying attention to how much we’re eating. TV is especially bad here.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

The basic rule: distractions of all kinds make us eat, forget how much we eat, and extend how long we eat—even when we’re not hungry… The longer they watched TV, the more they ate. In fact, if they watched TV for an hour, they ate 28 percent more popcorn than if they watched for a half hour.

Guess what’s more effective than exercise when trying to drop those extra pounds? Merely reading food labels:

Label users who did not exercise displayed a slightly greater likelihood of weight loss than those who exercised but did not read food labels.

And what personality trait best predicts obesity? Being impulsive:

Impulsivity was the strongest predictor of who would be overweight, the researchers found. Study participants who scored in the top 10 percent on impulsivity weighed an average of 22 lbs. more than those in the bottom 10 percent, according to the study.

Our environment calls to us and if you’re not thinking before you’re acting, your surroundings had better be arranged properly.

(For more on how to increase willpower and self-control, click here.)

We’re making progress but is there any important advice on how to eat? Yup.

4) Slow Down

The heavy people at the buffet chewed 12 times per mouthful. The skinny people chewed an average of 15 times.

Research shows eating slower gives time for the “fullness” signal to kick in:

That study found that women who were told to eat quickly consumed 646 calories in nine minutes, but the same women consumed just 579 calories in 29 minutes when encouraged to pause between bites and chew each mouthful 15 to 20 times before swallowing.

How long does the fullness signal take to do its job? About 20 minutes.

Problem is, the average American meal today doesn’t even last 20 minutes.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

Many research studies show that it takes up to 20 minutes for our body and brain to signal satiation, so that we realize we are full. Twenty minutes is enough time to inhale two or three more pieces of pizza and chug a large refill of Pepsi. Here’s the problem. We Americans start, finish, and clear the table for many of our meals in less than 20 minutes.

The same amount of food can make you full or still hungry entirely depending on how quickly you eat it, so slooooooow down.

(For more on why your relationship with food is so crazy, click here.)

Nobody likes to have to avoid their favorite foods so what’s an easier thing to avoid that can have big results?

5) Variety Is Not The Spice Of Weight Loss

This is one of the reasons we overeat at buffets: we want to try everything.

Give people three options and they eat 23% more than if they only had one choice.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

Increasing the variety of a food increases how much everyone eats. To demonstrate this, Dr. Barbara Rolls’ team at Penn State has showed that if people are offered an assortment with three different flavors of yogurt, they’re likely to consume an average of 23 percent more than if offered only one flavor…

What does Brian recommend?

Never have more than two items on your plate at any time. You can go back for more, but lack of variety and having to get up makes you eat less.

(For more on how to be resilient when faced with challenges, click here.)

You’ve reduced your options. But food isn’t the only thing that affects how much you eat. Another element of your environment is key too.

6) Be Mindful Of Those You Eat With

How much you eat is strongly affected by how much those around you eat, but you rarely realize it.

Dining with friends? You’ll probably eat twice as much.

Via Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

On average, if you eat with one other person, you’ll eat about 35 percent more than you otherwise would. If you eat with a group of seven or more, you’ll eat nearly twice as much—96 percent more—than you would if you were eating alone at the Thanksgiving card table in the other room. If you get a reservation for a table for four, you’ll end up right in the middle—you’ll eat about 75 percent more calories than if you reserve a table for one.

Eating with overweight friends? You’ll eat more.

Is your waitress overweight? You’ll eat more.

Are you a woman eating with a man? You’ll eat less.

Who do you need to be most careful around? Skinny overeaters.Why?

It makes your brain think you can eat like they do without any downside. But for all you know that might be their only meal of the day…

(For more on how to make friends and improve your friendships, click here.)

So we’ve got lots of stuff that can help us eat less. Let’s round it all up.

Sum Up

Here are great tips from Brian Wansink:

  1. Change what’s visible. Hide the soda and put out the fruit.
  2. Change what’s reachable. Make a plate, leave the rest in the kitchen and force yourself to walk back for more.
  3. Plan ahead. Size up the buffet before you load your plate. Don’t shop hungry.
  4. Eat slower. It takes 20 minutes for the “full” signal to kick in so make sure meals last at least that long.
  5. Reduce your food options. Only two things on your plate at a time. Make yourself get bored with them.
  6. Be mindful of those you eat with. Trying to drop weight? Might want to eat alone a bit more often.

So you’re ready to start implementing all this tomorrow? Going to totally overhaul how you eat? Bad idea.

Wansink realized people who were successful at this made changes slowly but were consistent.

Via Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life:

People who most successfully lost weight made only one or two changes but stuck with them day after day— an average of at least twenty-five days a month. Unfortunately, the people who didn’t lose weight often tried to tackle too much all at once. They tried to change everything, and most gave up within a month.

We live most of our lives on autopilot. But with a few simple controls in place, autopilot can get us where we want to go.

As Wansink is fond of saying:

The best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on.

Want more lessons from Brian’s research?

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TIME ebola

Ebola’s Other Toll: Food On the Table

People draw water in the West Point neighborhood, where many people have died from Ebola, in Monrovia, Liberia on Oct. 17, 2014.
People draw water in the West Point neighborhood, where many people have died from Ebola, in Monrovia, Liberia on Oct. 17, 2014. John Moore—Getty Images

Liberian families are feeling the pressures of food insecurity, and are eating less.

Eighty-five percent of households in Liberia are eating fewer meals a day as a way to deal with lower incomes and higher prices related to the Ebola epidemic, according to a new report from the global humanitarian agency Mercy Corps.

Most households are also reducing the amount they’re eating at each meal, and report supplementing with lower-quality and cheaper food. When asked in surveys about household priorities, Liberians listed food as their most urgent need even before health care and clothing. A variety of factors are playing into Liberian families’ inability to get food on the table, including restrictions on transportation and lack of quality products at local markets.

One of the major industries hit by the Ebola outbreak in the three countries affected by the outbreak is agriculture, which is a dominating industry in Liberia. Other Liberians lost incomes due to protocols put in place to contain the virus, like closing schools. Teachers employed by the government still receive salaries, but private school teachers do not.

Decrease in number of household income earners MercyCorps

About 63% of households also reported an increase in expenses since a state of emergency was declared in August. Liberians used to rely on cross-border trade with Guinea and Sierra Leone, but the epicenter of the outbreak was the very area around shared borders. Now, all imports have shifted to Monrovia, putting pressure on supply chains and prices. But vendors in local markets estimate a 52% reduction in their number of customers each day, since large gathering of people has been discouraged.

“If attention is not paid to the economic impact of the crisis, the situation will continue to deteriorate over the coming months,” the report reads.

Mercy Corps says it plans to help farmers by offering cash transfers, emergency food assistance, and aid in goods transport. Working with the local government to improve transportation conditions while maintaining tight Ebola protocols is another way to increase both incomes and food availability. However, bigger initiatives have to start now in order to ensure the current food crisis is temporary. For instance, the upcoming planting season needs to continue on schedule and there needs to be a greater assessment of the whole region’s transportation system.

If action isn’t taken soon, the impact on the country’s economy and food system after the outbreak could be devastating.

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