Diet advice is a lot like fashion. Trends come—wedge sneakers, drop-crotch pants, those skirts that are short in the front and long in the back—and a year or two later they seem hopelessly out of date.
But the truly stylish always look smart; you’ll never see a photo of Pharrell Williams wearing crocs or Victoria Beckham in a meat dress. Here at Eat This, Not That!, we see the same thing when it comes to weight loss: Those who stay slim don’t follow diets or nutrition trends. They follow common sense eating strategies that keep them looking fit for life.
Giving up gluten, throwing back shots of apple cider vinegar, juicing everything in sight—try them if you think they make sense. But when those of-the-moment diet fads are gathering dust in the back of your metaphorical closet, the simple, smart, sensible approaches will be there like a favorite pair of jeans or a perfect little black dress—look-great staples guaranteed to never go out of style. (As an added bonus, add a daily cup to your routine—of green tea, that is. Here's all you need to know about green tea and weight loss.)
If you see it, you’ll eat it. If you don’t see it, you’ll still eat it—but not so much. That’s what a study at Google’s New York office, dubbed “Project M&M” found. Office managers discovered that placing the chocolate candies in opaque containers as opposed to glass ones, and giving healthier snacks like nuts and figs more prominent shelf space, curbed M&M intake by 3.1 million calories in just seven weeks. A similar study published in the Journal of Marketing found that people are more likely to overeat small treats from transparent packages than from opaque ones. Out of sight, out of mind, out of mouth.
For every 10 grams of carbohydrate listed on the label, look for at least one gram of fiber. Why 10:1? That’s the ratio of carbohydrate to fiber in a genuine, unprocessed whole grain. The recommendation comes from a study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition that evaluated hundreds of grain products; foods that met the 10:1 ratio had have less sugar, sodium, and trans fats than those that didn’t.
Ever notice how everything inside a McDonald’s—the burgers, the fries, the shakes—smells exactly the same? That sameness of scent is actually a tactic that can inspire you to consume more calories. (But if you're really jonesing for a burger fix, we also have suggestions on what to eat at McDonald's.) A study in the journal Flavour found that the less distinctive the scent of a particular food, the more you’ll eat of it. Adding herbs and sodium-free spice blends is an easy way to take advantage of the sensory illusion that you’re indulging in something rich—without adding any fat or calories to your plate. Furthermore, a recent behavioral study that taught adults to spruce up meals with herbs instead of salt led to a decrease in sodium consumption by nearly 1000 mg a day (that’s more salt than you’ll find in 5 bags of Doritos!).
You can gain less weight from a serving of pasta simply by putting it in the fridge. The drop in temperature changes the nature of the noodles into something called “resistant starch, ” meaning your body has to work harder to digest it. Cold pasta is closer in structure to natural resistant starches like lentils, peas, beans, and oatmeal, which pass through the small intestine intact and are digested in the large intestine, where—well, it gets kinda gross from there on out. A study in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism found that adding resistant starch to a meal may also promote fat oxidation. Suffice it say, colder noodles = hotter you. But you’ve got to eat it cold: Once you heat the pasta up again, you destroy the resistant starch.