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Chocolate Mondays – Media Distortions of Health and Science

Jeremy Hendon | March 28

chocolate-bar

A MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTION

Why might individuals who report eating chocolate more often be more likely to be thin (not overweight)?

A.     Because overweight individuals are more likely to be on a diet, and therefore eat chocolate less frequently

B.     Because individuals who eat chocolate more often also exhibit more self control and actually eat less total chocolate

C.     Because overweight individuals are less likely to honestly report eating foods that are perceived as “unhealthy”

D.     Because chocolate contains certain nutrients that make a person fuller and therefore less likely to eat as many calories of other foods

Answer: As you likely already guessed, it’s a trick question, since any of the 4 answers above are entirely plausible.  Rest assured that there could be many more than just these 4 explanations for why individuals who eat chocolate more often are more likely to be thin.

It seems, though, that the news media has a limited imagination for explanations, since almost every major news outlet has recently published an article proclaiming that chocolate may help to keep people slim, all based on one study.

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The Biggest Diet Secret that Everyone and their Mother Already Knows…

Jeremy Hendon | November 29

dieting secretI’m a real geek when it comes to scientific studies.  I can never get enough, and I get excited every time I read a new study on nutrition, weight loss, muscle gain, or pretty much anything related to health.  Like I said, I’m a self-professed geek in this regard.

However, I have to constantly remind myself that we already know most of what we need to know.  In the end, our health is mostly determined by following rules that our parents and grandparents told us, even if they didn’t know the full or correct reasons.   That’s why, today, I want to discuss something we’ve all known for most of our lives but seems to have become a big secret recently.

So what is the ABSOLUTE BIGGEST SECRET ABOUT DIETING TO LOSE FAT?

Wait for it….

 

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Out of Control: Why you Cheat on your diets and what to do about it

Jeremy Hendon | October 2

Trouble making healthy eating choicesIf you’re like most people I know, you probably think, at some point during the day, that you really need to make better choices about what, when, and/or how much to eat.  And really, it’s such a valiant and optimistic thought – “if I try just a LITTLE BIT harder, I can start making better decisions and get healthier/skinnier/stronger.”

The problem is, for you, me, and most of the rest of the world, TRYING A LITTLE BIT HARDER just hasn’t been working.  So why can’t we stay motivated to diet and not cheat?  Because…

MOTIVATION IS A BIG JOKE

Have you ever stopped to count how many times you’ve cheated on a diet in your life?  How about your friends?  How many times have you heard a friend talk about cheating or getting back on their diet after falling off it?  I’ve never taken the time to count, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve cheated on a diet well over 1,000 times in my life (and that’s a conservative guess).

If I had a nickel (or lost a pound of fat) for every time I heard someone tell me that they’re serious THIS TIME or that it will somehow be different on this particular diet…

Give me a break – YOUR NEXT DIET WILL BE NO DIFFERENT THAN YOUR LAST ONE

Here’s the thing – if you want to know how you’re going to act in the future (whether on a diet or otherwise), just look at how you’ve acted in the past.  Your actions will ALMOST ALWAYS follow the same pattern.  (Unless, of course, you’re a character in a movie, of course, in which case, you’re about to have a life-changing epiphany that no one in the real world will actually ever have).  If you didn’t get out of bed and go exercise this morning, then there’s a pretty good chance that you won’t do it a week from now either.  (Of course, there will be days that you do, but the chances are, on any given day, that you’ll take the action or actions you most commonly have taken in the past).

We’re well into the 20th century, and there’s a lot of cool research that some smart folks have been conducting for quite a while on behavior, decision-making, and even nutrition (e.g., Brian Wansink at Cornell ).  Guess what?  All of the research being done by Wansink and most other behavioral economists flies in the face of the notion that any of us can simply decide to change our behavior in any significant way without figuring out a way to change our environment and circumstances.

 

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