Delicious food isn’t to blame!
What is it about the holiday foods that make it so hard to resist? We spend all year dieting and being strict with our eating habits, but the moment Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner rolls around, all our self-control flies out the window. We devour all the delicious holiday foods we can, telling ourselves, “It’s just once a year” or some other rationalization.
Why is that? Is it because the holiday foods are so much more delicious than other foods? After all, there’s a lot of sugar, butter, cream, and other delicious flavors in the holidays foods. Surely that’s what makes us overeat, right?
According to new research from Monell Chemical Senses Center in Pennsylvania, that’s not the case. In fact, the flavor of your food has NOTHING to do with your propensity for overeating and gaining weight.
A pair of studies was conducted to determine how flavor affects eating habits. Mice were given two choices of food: “normal” food, and food with extra sugar and fatty flavors. As the researchers expected, the mice obviously favored the delicious food over the plainer, less flavorful fare. In fact, they actually ended up defecating in the cup that contained the tasteless food.
But the next study proved far more interesting. The mice were given the same food (plain, high sugar, and high fat) for the next six weeks. After the testing period, the three groups of mice were measured for body fat and weight. The results: there were NO significant differences between the groups.
What does this mean? Simple: tastier food doesn’t necessarily lead to obesity. The mice who ate the delicious food ended up at the same weight and body fat content as the mice who ate simple, plain food.
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In the third study, the mice were given delicious food with a high fat content for the purpose of fattening them up. Yet when sugar was added to the high fat food, the mice didn’t gain weight any more quickly. The time it took them to become obese remained the same, regardless of the sugar or fat content of their food.
This study proves that the flavor of the food has NO bearing on obesity. Yes, the food may be more delicious, but it’s not something we have to eat as much of as possible. As this study proved, flavor determines what you choose to eat, but not HOW MUCH of it.
What’s the real reason for the holiday weight gain, then? Surely it has something to do with all those delicious treats, right?
That much is true. When the holidays roll around, people allow their discipline and diets to slip. They end up eating far more than they should—both of flavorful and flavorless foods—because they reason “it’s the holiday, which only comes once a year, so it’s okay to eat a bit more”.
That’s the reason so many people end up gaining weight over the holidays. Sure, all the delicious foods are going to make it much harder for you to keep up your willpower to say “no” when your tastebuds are craving a second or third helping. But it’s not the food’s fault that you’re eating more than normal. It’s very much an “in your head” thing that can be avoided. You’ll have to work extra hard to avoid overeating during the holidays, but it can be done. Instead of dreading your January weight loss efforts, make it a point to be faithful with the dieting and healthy eating during December.