Body by Boston: Eat Right

By Ashley Wood | Boston Magazine |

YOU KNOW BETTER than to go on a crash diet. But even smart folks want to believe in miracle methods to shrink the waistline. Truth is, they don’t exist. So when you do commit to shedding pounds, set realistic goals and pick a plan that’s right for you (hint: it won’t be a fad diet), and you’ll end up with results you can see.

Think Thin

How your ideas of good and bad foods can make you fat.

Superfruits, antioxidant vegetables, evil pastries—are we at the supermarket or in a comic book? Forget which foods are the heroes and which are the bad guys. Turns out that the very notion of good versus evil at the grocery store could be making us chunky.

[sidebar]During a 2011 study conducted by three researchers at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, 50 college-age women were instructed to eat either a doughnut or a banana, and then asked to complete a series of questionnaires that evaluated their mood and body image. The two foods actually have identical caloric makeups, but as you might expect, the banana eaters reported feeling cheery, while the doughnut eaters were left scrutinizing their waistlines. “People get this mindset that there are good foods and bad foods, and there really aren’t,” says Robin Kanarek, coauthor of the study.

In another study, conducted by Emily Fox Kales, a student of Kanarek, those who ate a perceived “bad” food were more likely to binge than those who ate “good” stuff. People’s preconceived notions influence “their behavior a lot more than the actual calorie content of a food,” Kanarek says. “Once they already feel bad about themselves, they think, Oh well, might as well finish the whole bag of candy.”

It’s said that you are what you eat, but the truth is more like you are what you think you eat. Just don’t go thinking a Snickers bar is Kashi.

Illustration by Resident Alien