• All posts,  Well-being

    Those hippie words we use

    I was on holiday last week so I gave myself permission to write something a bit different; to discuss a topic that’s close to my heart though it makes a lot of folk squirm. Let’s talk about spirituality. I meditate regularly and have done so for nearly two decades. I have attended Buddhist events. I have read many English translations of Buddhist texts. I don’t believe everything I read, not least because I think a lot of the language is very metaphorical. I find myself fascinated. Buddhism in particular (which Alan Watts often described as Hinduism stripped for export) seems to be a highly advanced unscientific psychology. I believe a…

  • All posts,  Well-being

    TV makes food taste bland

    Last week I suggested a few simple rules to follow if you want to change your eating habits for good. Key to these rules was the idea of paying attention to what you’re eating. We humans are actually pretty awful at paying attention to what we’re paying attention to. That is, we think we’re paying reasonable attention whilst actually we’re not. You might have seen a video of one of the classic experiments demonstrating how rubbish we humans are at paying attention. Try watching the video below, for instance… In videos like this, people generally only notice the gorilla walking casually across the scene about half the time. We really…

  • All posts,  Well-being

    The un-diet

    You’ve just got to groove with the food man. In previous posts I’ve explored how traditional weight-loss diets don’t work, how relying on nutritional labels might not help us as much as we think, and how being overly restrained probably leads to binges and over-consumption. So what’s the alternative? Clearly, cutting out ‘unhealthy’ foods completely doesn’t work (that’s partly what we mean by ‘restrained’), and eating piles of junk food isn’t going to make anyone slim. In an unhelpfully concise nutshell, the alternative is ‘the middle way’. Having spent a couple of years reading research findings and conducting my own research on eating, I feel more strongly than ever that…

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    I’m saving myself for pie

    For over thirty years, behavioural scientists have investigated so-called ‘restrained eaters’ (Stunkard & Messick, 1985). These people, and to some extent I still count myself among them, tend to eat less than they would really like at mealtimes, and often think about their weight and what they’ve recently eaten in order to decide how much to eat. In other words, rather than eating when hungry, and stopping when full, restrained eaters think things like, “well, I did have that big bagel for breakfast, so I’d better have less for lunch,” or “I ought to be sensible because I’m going out tonight and I know I’ll order a big meal then,”…

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    Does dieting make you fat?

    Years of dieting have irreparably damaged your metabolism and as a result, you’ll never be as slim as you’d like. Or at least, that’s what a number of doom-mongers would have you believe. In 1984, Geoffrey Cannon published his bestselling book Dieting makes you fat. It sold so well that he re-wrote it and in 2009 released an updated version. Mr Cannon’s claim has become something of an internet meme: the more you restrict your food intake, the likelier you are to get fat in the future. If you loose weight by dieting, you’ll put it all back on, and more, when you stop. There are different explanations for why this paradoxical effect might happen. But regardless, a quick look…