Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again
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A provocative expose of the dieting industry from one of the nation’s leading researchers in self-control and the psychology of weight loss that offers proven strategies for sustainable weight loss.
From her office in the University of Minnesota’s Health and Eating Lab, professor Traci Mann researches self-control and dieting. And what she has discovered is groundbreaking. Not only do diets not work; they often result in weight gain. Americans are losing the battle of the bulge because our bodies and brains are not hardwired to resist food—the very idea of it works against our biological imperative to survive.
In Secrets From the Eating Lab, Mann challenges assumptions—including those that make up the very foundation of the weight loss industry—about how diets work and why they fail. The result of more than two decades of research, it offers cutting-edge science and exciting new insights into the American obesity epidemic and our relationship with eating and food.
Secrets From the Eating Lab also gives readers the practical tools they need to actually lose weight and get healthy. Mann argues that the idea of willpower is a myth—we shouldn’t waste time and money trying to combat our natural tendencies. Instead, she offers 12 simple, effective strategies that take advantage of human nature instead of fighting it—from changing the size of your plates to socializing with people with healthy habits, removing “healthy” labels that send negative messages to redefining comfort food.
overweight, but it seemed like the thing to do. We made up the rules ourselves, though what we based them on I cannot recall. Cheese was allowed, but milk wasn’t. Bread was not allowed, but Ritz crackers and Wheat Thins were part of the daily menu. So were pickles and canned tuna fish with Miracle Whip. We had to stay below 1,200 calories each day, which is pretty standard for a diet and not nearly as strict as many. But it was miserable. I hadn’t thought very much about what I was eating before
shows the power our thoughts can have over our biology—the participants’ ghrelin levels were influenced not by how hungry they actually were, but by how hungry they thought they were. Thoughts matter. Changing your thoughts can lead to changes in your emotions, your behavior, and as this milkshake study found, even physiological responses in your body. Because thoughts matter, the strategies that follow are all based on the idea of altering them. If we can change the way we think about healthy
about it, despite also dealing with his own highly demanding job. He is the best writer and funniest person I know, and I’m pretty sure this book would have been better if he wrote it (but it would have taken a lot longer, so there’s that). Plus, for twenty-three years and counting, he has an unblemished record of not tolerating fat talk. Thanks to our sons, who are charming, interesting, hilarious, and infuriating. To Ben, my favorite partner in slothfulness, sushi eating, and concertgoing:
86. A. S. Levy and A. W. Heaton, “Weight Control Practices of US Adults Trying to Lose Weight,” Annals of Internal Medicine 119, no. 7 Part 2 (1993): 661–66; Edward C. Weiss et al., “Weight-Control Practices among U.S. Adults, 2001–2002,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 31, no. 1 (2006): 18–24. 87. Lisa L. Ioannides-Demos et al., “Safety of Drug Therapies Used for Weight Loss and Treatment of Obesity,” Drug Safety 29, no. 4 (2006): 277–302, doi:10.2165/00002018-200629040-00001.
Lotte F. van Dillen, “Leaving a Flat Taste in Your Mouth: Task Load Reduces Taste Perception,” Psychological Science 24, no. 7 (July 1, 2013): 1277–84, doi:10.1177/0956797612471953. 24. There is a slight difference. Intuitive eaters specifically reject following diet rules or plans and only eat what their body “tells” them it wants. Mindful eaters might follow an eating plan, so long as they are attentive to their eating and hunger. For specific measures of each, see Tracy L. Tylka,