There are tons of studies when it comes to healthy eating, and although some of them seem pretty obvious, there are others that may raise an eyebrow. We may not learn much from a study that praises a diet high in vegetables, but there are a variety of weird nutrition rules proven by science that could be more helpful — and more interesting — for people trying to eat healthy. They may be a little offbeat, but they work, which can also demonstrate that healthy eating isn't so cut and dry.
In general, eating well isn't as much about following a particular diet as it is adapting an overall lifestyle. Studies can help serve as guidelines for the types of habits you should be incorporating.
"The only diet rule I believe in is that there are no rules," says Rachel Berman, RD, Director of About.com Health, over email. "What works for your best friend or for a celebrity may not work for you — and that’s OK. We are all different, so the key is to keep trying different strategies when it comes to your diet to see what helps you truly feel your best."
That being said, here are seven healthy eating tricks that have been backed by science.
1. Enjoy Some Sweets At Breakfast
"Incorporating a sweet food into breakfast — whether that be adding chocolate chips to your oatmeal or honey into your yogurt parfait, may help reduce cravings later on," says Berman. A study from the journal Eating Behaviors found that eating a small amount of a highly liked food each day reduces overall cravings.
2. Give Your Hunger A Number
Studies show that mindful eating can help people recognize hunger cures as well as make healthy and nutritious choices. One useful tool for mindful eating is rating your hunger on a scale from zero to 10. "We eat for many reasons other than hunger," says Berman. "So before you reach for that snack or second serving, ask yourself — do you really truly feel hungry? Or are you just eating because you are bored, stressed or tired?"
3. Eat On A Colorful Plate
Research from Cornell University found that people serve themselves more food when the color of their food matches the color of their plate. If you have found you have a problem with eating to the point of being uncomfortably overfull, then try this weird tip. "If your goal is to eat less of a food, serve it on a plate that’s a different color, says Berman. "This creates an optical illusion that causes you to take less. But if you’re trying to eat more of something, like green veggies, get yourself a green plate."
4. Indulge In Your Cravings Just A Little
Eating healthy doesn't mean you can't have some of your favorite ice cream or the occasional french fry. In fact, other research from Cornell University shows that eating a small amount of the food you are craving is just as satisfying as eating the whole thing.
5. Drink More Water To Feel Happier
Although it may not be your first instinct to connect your hydration levels to how you feel emotionally, research from the Journal Of Nutrition found that even mild dehydration can cause moodiness and fatigue. Staying hydrated can keep you upbeat and energized, so don't underestimate the importance of water.
6. Buy Your Food With Cash
It may seem tempting to put your grocery bill on your credit card, but a study from Cornell University found that people are more likely to buy junk food when paying with plastic. This is likely because unhealthy foods are usually more of an impulse buy, and paying with cash often requires thinking ahead and setting intentions to only spend a certain amount.
7. Smell Some Fruits
The key to reducing cravings and making healthy choices may lie in your nose — and your fruit basket. Multiple studies show that sniffing fruits can help reduce hunger and diminish sugary cravings. Keeping a fruit basket out can also be a visual reminder to make healthy choices.
Keeping these weird studies in mind may help you make better choices in the long run, even if there efficacy perplexes you.
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