The See-Food Diet: What You See is What You Eat

October 26, 2006

The See-Food Diet: What You See is What You Eat 

 Competency # 9 Environment                          Reference: Painter and Wansink: International Journal of Obesity 30:5, May 2006 

 I see food and I eat it.  Simple as that.  The See-Food diet.  This is not rocket science.  My mother knew this.  And now it is science.  The wonderful candy bowl we put out to welcome our guests who come to us.   Put a few chocolate kisses in there.  And what happens to you?   We eat it. 

 Drs. Painter and Wansink put glass candy bowls on desks in front of office staff.  They measured the amount of candy eaten to the piece.  Those given clear glass candy bowls ate 77% percent more candy than those given opaque glass bowls.  7.7 pieces a day versus 4.6.    Their best measurement is that you see the bowl about 12 times an hour, and have to say no 12 times an hour.  Eventually, you give in, just a little.  3.1 times a day more often than if you can’t see it.  

That difference, day after day, turns into about 3-4 pounds a year.  The little difference being clear glass versus opaque glass.  3 extra kisses a day. Three to four pounds a year is what we all gain each year if we aren’t really watching.  Changing your environment to make it safe for you means you have to get that stuff that you eat without thinking about out of sight, and out of mind.   

That's how successful weight loss really works.  Making those little changes that you don't even notice, but that put you beyond the realm of risk.  You don't feel deprived when you cut your intake by just a 100 calories a day.  More importantly, you don't trigger your metabolism to go into starvation mode, where you shut down how much you burn. So, while you are in a sane moment, make it healthy food that you can see.  Express your hospitality to others with something good for you, and for them.  An exquisite piece of fruit!  You might not eat it because it’s not quite the rush of pure chocolate.  And if you do, it will take longer, make you feel fuller, and have many fewer calories.   And then your hips don’t have to carry those around for the rest of your life either. 

 WWW: What Will Work for Me:  I’m re-engineering my personal environment.  The Honeycrisp apple season is almost over.  They are so good while they last.  But as the holidays come up, I’m thinking about how to keep myself safe from binging.  And I’ve stopped buying almonds in huge bags.  If I buy those tasty almonds in a pound bag, I see the pound and I eat the pound.  I’m looking for smaller sizes of the stuff that’s good for me.  How about a fat-free yogurt that’s back in the fridge where I can’t see it.  But when I’m really hungry, it’s there for a mid-morning snack. 

This column was written by Dr. John E. Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI, (262-784-5300)