Tricks to Fight Fat

Is your brain sabotaging your diet? Experts say it plays a big role in how and when we eat. So how can we train our brain to make healthier decisions? From turning down the music to stumping your sense of smell, here are 8 ways to stop your head from messing with your waistline… Sure, spending time at the gym and counting calories are good for keeping the scale steady. But experts say the key to hitting your goal weight could be all in your head. That’s because your brain – not your stomach – dictates what and how much you should eat. “Many of the hormones that impact your appetite and weight are either produced or regulated by your brain,” says Svetlana Kogan, M.D., board-certified internist and founder of the medical facility Doctors At Trump Place in New York City. “So it’s smart for women to step in and stop things like overeating at the source: their head.” From stimulating appetite to directing eating habits, your brain is in the driver’s seat when it comes to your diet.

1. Don’t pump up the volume.
Loud music (88 decibels, or dB) ramps up signals in your brain to drink almost 30% faster than you would if the music were at decibels you didn’t have to shout over (72 dB), according to a 2008 study by the University of Ulster in Ireland.

The scientists found that the louder the music blared, the longer people hung out at a bar, and the more booze they guzzled.

The fix: Wear a watch.

Ever notice the lack of clocks in clubs? It’s for a good reason. The owners don’t want you to realize how much time – or money – you’re spending.

The scientists suspect that exposure to loud music changes your perception of how quickly time is passing. So slipping a watch around your wrist or even setting an alarm on your cell phone to go off once an hour will help you stay focused on how long you’ve been out.

This awareness can make you consume fewer liquid calories, says lead researcher Nicolas Guéguen, Ph.D.

2. Stop thinking about losing weight.
A day of dodging cakes and chips in the breakroom just might make you fall off the diet wagon.

Dieters, or people trying not to think about food, are 30% more likely to give into impulses at the grocery store, according to 2008 University of Minnesota research. Their theory: Concentrating all that willpower on not eating leaves you vulnerable to impulse buys and, subsequently, food splurges. The fix: To keep from binging in the checkout line, shop for groceries early in the day, advises lead researcher, Kathleen Vohs, Ph.D., professor of consumer psychology at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. Your self-control will be stronger and fresher because it hasn’t been tested that day. Still, have an “if/then” plan for making healthier choices when cravings hit. “If you’re hungry or fixated on food while shopping, [tell yourself that] you’ll grab a piece of fruit, a handful of protein-packed almonds or a similar low-calorie snack,” Vohs says.

3. Thinking you’re fat makes you heavier.

When Harvard researchers told women working in hotels that their activity satisfied the U.S. surgeon general’s recommendation for an active lifestyle, they lost weight and lowered their blood pressure, BMI and waist-to-hip ratio. Women performing the same tasks who weren’t told their activity qualified didn’t lose weight. A few even gained a couple of pounds (over 30 days). The researchers speculate that mind-set determined weight loss.