What do slim people do that gives them an edge? They read labels. A recent international study that tracked the food shopping habits of 25,640 Americans found that women who read nutritional labels when shopping for food weighed nearly 9 pounds less than women who didnt read them. And women were better label readers than men: 74 percent of them looked at nutrition information versus 58 percent of men, the same study found.
Trouble is, we have a short attention span when it comes to reading the Nutrition Facts labels, according to a study of 203 people conducted at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Although most consumers did view labels, very few viewed every component on any label, according to Dan J. Graham, Ph.D., and Robert W. Jeffrey, Ph.D., who oversaw the research. Reading the nutritional facts label is key to staying true to your diet. Looks can be deceiving, so make sure you check the serving size in addition to the calories. What might look to you like one serving can actually be two or even more. And pay attention to the saturated fat, protein, fiber, and sugar content. As a rule of thumb, remember this: The higher the better for fiber and protein, and the lower the better for sugars and saturated fat.
Reading labels can also prevent you from falling for false advertising or being deceived by your own perceptions. A Yale University study is just one example of how your mind drives your responses to food. Researchers found that people who drank a milkshake they were led to believe was caloric (620 calories) declared it was more satisfying and that they felt fuller than when they unknowingly sipped the exact same shake, this time presented to them as low calorie (140 calories). Their satiety was consistent with what they believed they were consuming rather than the actual nutritional value of what they consumed, said Alia J. Crum, Ph.D., the lead researcher.
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