I love New Scientist magazine, not least as I can read it on the train interspersed with copies of Heat to completely mess with peoples’s preconceptions of me, but I do admit it’s not often it makes me laugh out loud. Yesterday it did.
There’s a piece in there on willpower and it cites a study where children were told to wait 15 minutes in a room with a marshmallow. If they didn’t eat it, they got two. It then reveals what the children did to distract themselves – some turned their back on the treat, some stroked their pigtails, others stroked the marshmallow like it was a soft toy (that was the point my imagination kicked in and I lost it) while a final group waited until the researcher had left the room and scoffed it anyway. Personally I think I’d probably use the first three tactics combined with some gentle rocking – then scarf it down.
Now you might think this is triggering a post on willpower – but, you’d be wrong. I started thinking about willpower as my friend Anna Magee had been writing about it on her blog – which reminded me, I needed to tell you about something else the Lady Magee has been spending her time on, a book – The De-Stress Diet – that she has written with nutritionist Charlotte Watts.
It’s always interesting when a friend has a book out – you’re almost scared to read it in case it is rubbish and you have to spend the next month or two avoiding their calls but thankfully this one is really good. The basic premise is that stress is now one of the major factors as to why we gain weight – and find it hard to lose it. A&C theorise that if you eat, exercise and live by a simple mantra of ‘how will this make me feel’ rather than ‘how will this make me look’, you can tackle both your stressload and any extra pounds you might be carrying along for the ride.
Overall the book recommends a hunter-gatherer diet so that means lots of protein and produce and no refined carbs – I already know that’s the diet that personally suits me best so I’m all behind that. However, at the start of the book you’ll also identify what ‘stress suit’ you carry and therefore what individual tweaks to your diet and lifestyle might boost its effects on your wellbeing as well as your waistline. I’m apparently ‘stressed and demotivated’ at the moment – probably because I hate winter – so it’s important for me to protect my mood hormones –and I didn’t know that cutting down on wheat and dairy which might deplete serotonin levels could help me here. You’ll also find an exercise plan that aims to rejuvenate your body – not deplete it, loads of calming tips and a yoga plan (which I admit I didn’t read as even just the idea yoga makes me grumpy and stressed!).
Now I’m not going to reveal too many tips from the book – as that might stop you buying it and Anna will shout at me, but here’s one simple idea I’ve already started using.
It’s the theory of the four layer salad. For most dieters salad is dull mainly because we choose either boring ingredients or the same ones day in, day out – I have the opposite problem. I put everything on my salad and then find I’m consuming about 700 calories a bowl. The ‘four layer’ idea though gives you a framework that encourages you to experiment but not go overboard with the extras.
Layer one is leaves (that can mean lettuce – but also spinach, watercress, baby beetroot leaves or herb leaves).
Layer two – one or two interesting vegetables (artichokes, avocado, olives, asparagus, cherry tomatoes or roasted vegetables perhaps).
Layer three – grateable vegetables (carrot, beetroot, courgette, celeriac etc).
Layer four – a sensible portion of a protein like eggs, nuts, chicken or goats cheese.
Finally top it off with a dash of healthy dressing or high flavoured addition like anchovies or crispy onion pieces – I’d never thought of putting cumin seeds in a salad before, but it’s great.
If you like that, then why not buy the book itself.The Destress Diet: The Revolutionary Lifestyle Plan for a Calmer, Slimmer You
NB: I am an Amazon Associate so if you do click the link above I do make a small commission if you make a purchase.
cookie picture @istockphoto.com/Christian Pound