Want to lose weight? Put mirrors in your kitchen and dining room
It seems like a disarmingly simple suggestion, but installing a mirror in the dining room and kitchen could be one of the best ways to avoid piling on the pounds.
A new study suggests that when diners gaze at their own reflection, they watch what they eat. It is one of a number of behavioural tricks which can prevent overeating, food psychologists claim. Using smaller, less fancy or even paper plates, eating with a fork instead of a spoon, and skipping dinner if you are not hungry can also help, according to studies published in the 'Journal of the Association for Consumer Research'.
"A glance in the mirror tells people more than just about their physical appearance," said Dr Ata Jami of the University of Central Florida, who led the research into the use of mirrors. "It enables them to view themselves objectively and helps them to judge themselves and their behaviour in the same way that they judge others."
People often choose unhealthy food because they think it is tastier. But the presence of a mirror near a dining table or in a kitchen can lower its perceived tastiness and reduce its consumption.
To test the hypothesis, the researchers asked 185 undergraduate students to choose a chocolate cake or a fruit salad and then evaluate its taste. Those who took the cake and ate it in a room with a mirror evaluated it as less tasty than those who did so in a room without a mirror. But the presence of a mirror did not change the perceived taste of the fruit salad.
The research indicates that placing a mirror in dining rooms and other eating spaces so that diners can see themselves eat can be an effective way to encourage healthier eating practices.
Separately, researchers at the University of South Florida found that eating with a fork instead of a spoon, where possible, encourages people to take smaller mouthfuls.
Individuals were given a bite-sized food sample and asked to eat it using the cutlery provided - either a fork or a spoon. They were then asked how many calories they thought the sample contained and how many additional pieces they would like to eat.
The results showed that people perceived the same food as having fewer calories when they ate it with a spoon than when they ate it with a fork.