How Putting a Mirror in Your Dining Room Might Help You Lose Weight

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Magic mirror on the wall, should I stop eating junk food once and for all? Yes. And using a mirror might actually help you do so, per a new study.

How? Researchers at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab found that eating unhealthy food in front of a mirror can make it seem significantly less delicious.

RELATED: 3 Totally Free and Easy Ways to Lose Weight

To get these results, researchers conducted a taste test with 185 undergraduate students. The students were asked to choose either chocolate cake or fruit salad. After selecting their food, half the participants ate in a room facing a mirror while the other half ate in a reflection-free setting. Afterward, they were asked to rate the taste of the food for the researchers.

Among the cake-eaters, those who ate in the presence of a mirror enjoyed their cake less than the participants who didn’t have to watch themselves eat.  However, the people who ate fruit didn’t record any difference in tastiness due to setting.

“A glance in the mirror tells people more than just about their physical appearance. It enables them to view themselves objectively and helps them to judge themselves and their behaviors in a same way that they judge others,” lead researcher Ata Jami, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Central Florida, said in a news release.

RELATED: 57 Ways to Lose Weight Forever, According to Science

In other words, having to actually watch yourself eat something unhealthy triggers discomfort brought on by deeply ingrained social standards (in this case, that sugar is bad for your health). However, after conducting a related experiment, Jami found this phenomenon only applies if you opted to eat the unhealthy food—because then you’re actually responsible for the choice.

In that case, could mirrors be a secret to making healthier food choices? Researchers believe the answer is yes.

So if you’re seeking an easy way to boost your weight-loss goals, you may want to consider picking up a new decorative mirror for your dining room or kitchen. It could help you (quite literally) watch what you eat.


How to Shut Down Holiday Diet Saboteurs

We all know that the holiday season can be a healthy-eating minefield. But it’s not necessarily just because of the festive drinks and fattening apps. Friends and family members can also wreck your diet efforts—intentionally or unintentionally.

Most of the time, they mean well, says Susan Albers, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and author of 50 More Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food ($10.43,”Often, they’re trying to show their love through food, as many families do,” she points out.

On the other hand, not everyone has good intentions. “Some people attempt to push food to alleviate their own guilt: If she’s eating it, then it’s okay if I do, too,” Albers says. “Or it may be jealousy—your friend may be a little envious that you look great in your holiday dress.” Shut down common diet sabotaging comments with these comeback strategies from Albers.

RELATED: 11 People Who Could Wreck Your Diet

The Saboteur Says: “You’ve got to try this! It tastes amazing. Really, eat it.”
Shut It Down: “It looks amazing, but no thanks!” Remember that it’s okay to simply say no with confidence. Don’t apologize or offer an explanation. Practice saying no assertively and firmly before the party if you need to.

The Saboteur Says: “I made my coconut custard pie just for you. I know how much you love it.”
Shut It Down: Appreciate the effort by accepting a gift—even one of food—graciously. Ask to take it home since you are so full—and then regift it.

RELATED: 50 Holiday Foods You Shouldn’t Eat

The Saboteur Says: “I’m going to box up these leftovers for you.”
Shut It Down: Use humor by saying something like, “I’m so stuffed, pretty soon you’re going to mistake me for the turkey!” Or tell your host that your refrigerator is packed; everyone can visualize a full fridge that doesn’t have room for leftovers.

The Saboteur Says: “Why do you even bother dieting during the holidays?”
Shut It Down: “You’re right. Dieting during the holidays is a recipe for disaster. I’m eating mindfully—watching what I eat so I don’t overeat and gain the two pounds that research says most people put on during the holidays.” Agreeing with your critic or starting out with the words “you are right” helps to take out the emotional struggle. And throwing out research makes your comeback grounded and smart.

The Saboteur Says: “One drink can’t hurt, right?”
Shut It Down: Actually, maybe your friend is right—one cup of spiked coffee isn’t going to kill you or your diet. And neither will one cookie. So choose your one indulgence and decline the rest. Say something like, “Thanks, but that drink has as many calories as a piece of pecan pie—and I’d rather eat the pie!”

RELATED: 15 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain


Live to 100 By Eating These 18 Foods



Want to live to 100? Research shows your diet plays a huge role in how many birthday candles you’ll blow out. The following 18 foods are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that have been linked to longevity. Eat up!


Broccoli: It contains immune-boosting compounds, and may also help ward off stomach ulcers and even cancer.

Salmon: Including omega-3-rich fish (and others like it, such as tuna, mackerel, and sardines) as a regular part of your diet may reduce your risk of heart disease and prevent against inflammation.

Water: Staying hydrated reduces your risk for blood clots. It also helps you feel younger by keeping energy levels high.


Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries—all are bite-sized antioxidant powerhouses that stave off life-threatening diseases.

Garlic: It may not do your breath any favors, but the phytochemicals in garlic may halt the formation of carcinogenic compounds in the body.

Olive oil: The monounsaturated fats in olive oil have been linked to brain and heart health, as well as cancer prevention. Plus, dermatologists say women who follow olive-oil-rich diets have less skin damage and fewer wrinkles.


Bok choy: In a Vanderbilt University study, Chinese breast cancer survivors with diets high in cruciferous veggies like bok choy had a lower risk of death or recurrence.

Avocado: If your cholesterol numbers could use some help, listen up: eating more avocado may help lower your bad LDL cholesterol while also raising your good HDL cholesterol.

Tomato: There’s no better source for the antioxidant lycopene than rosy-red tomatoes.


Beans: Your go-to choice for plant-based protein, beans are also high in fiber, low in fat, and packed with more nutrients per gram than any other food.

Whole grains: In a study of more than 40,000 women, those who ate lots of grains had a 31% lower risk of dying from causes other than cancer or heart disease when compared with women who had few or no whole grains in their diet. (Be sure to check out the other health benefits of whole grains.)

Red wine: Research on the health benefits of wine and other alcohol is mixed, but here’s what we do know: a small amount of red wine at the end of the day may reduce stress, which is good for overall health.


Leafy greens: In a study, middle-aged people who ate a cup of cooked greens daily were half as likely to die within 4 years as those who ate no leafy greens.

Tea: Green tea has been shown to lower risk of heart disease and several types of cancer.

Coffee: Yes, your morning caffeine craving may be lengthening your life, one cup at a time. Research associates drinking coffee with a lower risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and a 2012 study found that coffee drinkers tend to live longer.


Dark chocolate: A 1999 Harvard study of 8,000 men discovered that those who ate chocolate as many as three times a month lived a year longer than those who didn’t. Try these five nutritionist-approved healthy ways to eat dark chocolate.

Nuts: With heart-healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, nuts may just be the healthiest snack you can eat. (That said, not all nuts are created equal, so choose wisely.)

Red cabbage: This vibrantly colored veggie boosts brain health and guards against cancer.



The Best Plant-Based Sources of Protein



In some circles meat is king when it comes to high-protein eating (just ask any Paleo dieter), but animal foods are not the only way to get this muscle-building nutrient. Plant proteins such as beans, whole grains, fruit, nuts, and seeds have many benefits: In addition to offering up lots of digestion-helping fiber, they may help lower your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. But you may wonder how much protein you’re getting from these different varieties. Not all are equal providers: A cup of raw broccoli, for instance, contains about two grams protein, while one ounce of almonds has six grams protein. Three ounces of firm tofu offers about eight grams protein, or 14 to 17 percent of your daily need.

Proteins in food provide amino acids, which the body uses as building blocks for other proteins—such as muscle and the collagen that holds your skin together. Food proteins can contain up to 20 amino acids, and the liver is able to produce all but nine of these. The remaining 11 are essential, meaning they must come from food sources. Without them, the body’s cells will take apart their own proteins to secure the missing amino acids—eventually degrading the body’s muscles and organs.

When a protein contains all the essential amino acids—as is the case with animal proteins and a small set of plant proteins including soy (edamame, tofu, tempeh, soy milk and soy nuts), quinoa, amaranth, chia, and hemp—it’s known as a complete protein. When it doesn’t, it’s an incomplete protein, as is the case with other plant proteins such as beans and nuts.

While one plant protein may be deficient in an amino acid or two, another plant protein may balance it out. For example, legumes (such as beans) offer isoleucine and lysine but are low in methionine and tryptophan—all essential amino acids. Grains (such as rice) contain the opposite balance of nutrients. You don’t need to eat these complementary proteins together at one meal, rather in the same day. “A person doesn’t have to be concerned whether every bite of protein is complete,” says Keri Gans, R.D., a dietitian in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet. “Rather, consume a wide variety of foods daily and you will be sure to eat all your amino acids.” Also be watchful that you’re eating a protein source with every meal, which will help assure that you’re getting the amino acids you need.

If you’re not familiar with plant proteins, start slowly. “Have one meal a week that’s totally plant-based,” suggests Gans. “For example, join the Meatless Monday crusade. Every Monday, create a meal featuring plant-based protein. Swap out the beef burger and try a veggie burger for dinner, or for lunch go with a hummus and veggie wrap.”

Here are more ideas for getting started, featuring the five complete plant proteins:

Edamame (17 grams protein per cup)

Soy beans are an excellent protein source and contain 11 to 13 percent of your daily need for immunity-helping vitamin C. Plus, eating soy daily can slightly lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Prepare it: Heat and lightly salt as a snack; add to a cold pasta salad or a stir-fry; puree in a dip with avocado, lemon juice and olive oil; make Sonima’s edamame and quionoa burgers.

Hemp seeds (10 grams protein per ounce)

Hemp seeds are an excellent source of the minerals magnesium and zinc, both important for immunity.

Prepare it: Use as a salad, pasta, or stir-fry topper; add a handful to a smoothie (blend in or sprinkle on)

Amaranth (9 grams protein per cup)

Each grain of amaranth consists of between five and nine percent oil. Phytosterols are present in this oil and are known for their cholesterol-lowering properties. A common variety of amaranth grown in the U.S. has the highest levels of these phytosterols.

Prepare it: Cook in a pilaf; pop in a dry, hot skillet while stirring with a wooden spoon and eat in lieu of popcorn or use in place of croutons on a salad

Quinoa (8 grams protein per cup)

This grain-like seed is a good source of satiating fiber—and it provides 7 percent of your daily need for potassium, which may help control blood pressure.

Prepare it: Add to soup; use as a stuffing for roasted bell peppers; chill and mix into a salad; mix with sweet potatoes and bake into quinoa cakes topped with a salad.

Chia seeds (5 grams protein per ounce)

When the seeds become wet, their fiber forms a gel and expands. This gel helps keep you fuller for longer and may also prevent constipation. Just one ounce of these nutty brown or black seeds provides 26 to 39 percent of your daily fiber need.

Prepare it: Mix into yogurt or oatmeal; make a pudding by soaking in almond or hemp milk for about 20 minutes, then sweetening with honey or agave

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Kate Hudson's Workout Secrets for Sculpted Abs

Did you happen to catch Kate Hudson in that barely-there bikini photo she recently posted from her vacay in Greece?

While we admit that the locale is pretty sweet, we are WAY more interested in the Oscar-nominated actress’s perfectly taut core. So we did some digging and found out that the 36-year-old attributes her sizzling bod to a few key workouts:

RELATED: 3 Sculpting Moves to Try From Our Red-Carpet Favorites

“I do all kinds of stuff. I get really bored, so I’ll do anything, I’ll try anything,” the mom of two  told E! News. “There’s this thing called Heartcore in London that I love. And so I do that when I am there. And then I do hot yoga a lot in London because when it’s rainy I just want to go somewhere warm. I spin—I love a SoulCycle class. I love to dance. I work out like four times a week,” the Fabletics founder said, while also noting that what she eats also plays a huge role in her knockout physique: “Food plays a big role.”

Another sculpting trick that Hudson lives by: trying to stay stress-free. “I really believe that when you are holding onto stress, you body does the same thing and when you start to let all of that go, [the weight] just starts to fall [off],” she told E! News.

RELATED: The Hottest Ways Hollywood Lives Healthy

We also know that Hudson is a Pilates devotee. In fact, she’s been practicing with her trainer Nicole Stuart for over 15 years. Here’s a move straight from Stuart that will help you tone and tighten you own tummy, Hudson-style.

Sculpt killer abs like Kate Hudson

Trainer: Nicole Stuart

The move: The Criss Cross

Why it’s so great: This exercise, which works the entire midsection but especially the obliques, will always challenge you because it never gets easier, Stuart says.

How to do it: Lying faceup, pull knees into stomach. Place hands behind head and bring elbows and knees to touch, or as close as possible (A). Bring left knee to right elbow, pressing both together as hard as you can, and extend right leg (B). Hold for 3 long counts, then return to “A” and hold. Repeat motion with right knee and left elbow while extending left leg. This is 1 rep. Do 10 reps a day to see a flat, toned belly in as little as a month.

RELATED: A Core Workout for Flat Abs in 4 Simple Moves


Move of the Week: Perfect Plank

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Perfect the simple plank move, and you will open yourself up to a world of body benefits, including a stronger core (shoulders, arms, and glutes too!), improved posture, and a flat belly. Sounds great, right? There’s one problem, though: You may be unknowingly cheating yourself out of these results if your form’s not up to par.

To make sure your plank is on point, follow these tips from Health‘s contributing yoga and wellness editor, Kristin McGee.

RELATED: 20 Ways to Do a Plank

Here’s how to do it: Life facedown with legs extended and elbows bent directly under shoulders. Feet should be hip-width apart and arms shoulder-width apart. You can place palms on the floor or claps hands together. Engage abs, tuck toes, and squeeze glutes to lift your body off of the floor. Focus eyes ahead about a foot in front of your hands. Maintain a straight line with your head, neck, shoulders, back, butt, and legs. Hold it for 20 seconds. As you get stronger, continue adding time. Too easy? Up the difficulty by performing the move with straight arms.

Trainer tip: Don’t hyper-extend your knees, allow your butt to rise, or drop your head.

Try this move: Perfect Plank

RELATED: 5 Plank Variations You Need to Try


What's the Best Diet in America? The Answer May Surprise You

Which diet is the best for weight loss? How about if you have diabetes or heart disease? U.S. News & World Report set out to answer these questions and more, combing through the research and corralling an impressive panel of expert consultants to assemble their Best Diets of 2015 rankings.

If you’re looking for a hot new plan to get excited about, you’ll be disappointed: The tried-and-true beat out fads. The No. 1 diet overall? The DASH Diet, short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, a low-fat, low-sodium, plant-centric diet originally developed to help people lower their blood pressure. DASH has decades of research backing its health and weight-loss benefits, and shelves of books and cookbooks to help you follow it, including the latest, The DASH Diet Younger You.

Other unsexy but solid plans making the top five: the TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) Diet, developed by the National Cholesterol Education Program; the classic Mediterranean Diet; good old Weight Watchers; and the Mayo Clinic Diet, developed by experts at (you guessed it) the Mayo Clinic.

Meanwhile, the totally on-trend Paleo Diet tied the French craze Dukan Diet for dead last. (Cue sad trombone.) “The Paleo diet scores poorly every year, largely because of how restrictive is,” says Angela Haupt, senior health editor for U.S. News. “Dieters will find it more difficult to stick to over the long haul. They’ll start to miss having a little sugar or some grains from time to time.”

RELATED: 14 Fad Diets You Shouldn’t Try

We shouldn’t be surprised by the results, says David Katz, MD, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and one of the U.S. News expert health panelists. “After all, the fundamentals of diet and health don’t change year to year, despite the fickleness of dietary fads and fashions,” he says.

And really, there’s no need to pick one particular diet at all, points out Dr. Katz, who last year published his own research review examining which diet is best for health. “Fads tend to emphasize the exclusivities of diets—’Here’s why mine beats yours,'” he says. “But good dietary attributes can be combined. A diet can be plant-based, and low-glycemic, and flexitarian, and so on. Wholesome foods in sensible combinations can be achieved in a variety of ways.”

Here, the top results of the U.S. News diet rankings:
Best Diets Overall

1. DASH Diet
2. TLC Diet
3. Mediterranean Diet (tie)
3. Weight Watchers (tie)
3. Mayo Clinic Diet (tie)

Best Weight Loss Diets

1. Weight Watchers
2. HMR Diet
3. Jenny Craig (tie)
3. Biggest Loser (tie)
3. Raw food diet (tie)

Best Diabetes Diets

1. DASH Diet (tie)
1. Biggest Loser (tie)
3. Vegan diet (tie)
3. Mayo Clinic Diet (tie)
3. Ornish Diet (tie)
3. Engine 2 Diet (tie)
3. Flexitarian Diet (tie)

Best Heart-Healthy Diets

1. Ornish Diet
2. TLC Diet
3. DASH Diet


5 Smart Diet and Fitness New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year! For many of us, it’s time to make some New Year’s resolutions.

If they’re part of your yearly tradition, you may already have some ideas in mind. If not, you probably want to make sure that you set some realistic resolutions, especially with regard to your diet and fitness goals since they’re sometimes the hardest to keep.

That said, here are five smart diet and fitness resolutions that you should consider adding to your list for 2014!

Make a small change every day 
Creating a long list of New Year’s resolutions might seem like a good idea, but taking on too much at once can overwhelm you and discourage you if you can’t focus your motivation. If you really want to keep your resolution(s), it’s best to start off by making small changes every day to slowly work toward your ultimate goal. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew, so keep things simple. For example, if your goal is to lose ten pounds, try non-fat milk in your latte one day and the next day, try adding 15 minutes of free weights at the gym. The more of these little changes you make in your daily life, the more likely they’ll eventually stick as a healthy habit. It’s challenging enough to change a single behavior, so taking on less will likely give you a better chance to succeed.

Do efficient workouts
Who has time to work out for two hours a day? Working out for hours and hours each day is not only time-consuming, but also boring, which can zap your motivation and ultimately prevent you from achieving your goals. Instead of a long sweat session, do shorter, high-intensity, interval workouts, such as this treadmill workout or this CrossFit-inspired workout. You’ll actually torch more calories in a quickie session than doing long, drawn-out workouts.

Eat nutritiously 80% of the time 
Many weight loss expert, like Jillian Michaels, recommend making 80% of the calories you consume healthy and nutritious and saving the remaining 20% for not-so-healthy-foods. This strategy makes changing your eating habits a lot more manageable because if you cut out all of your favorite foods, you’ll feel deprived and end up binging on them later. Eliminating indulgences may initially help you lose weight, but it’s not a realistic, long-term solution. If you eat well the majority of the time, a few treats here and there won’t hurt your overall weight loss efforts and your diet will feel a lot more balanced, so you’re able to stick to it.

Schedule your workouts each week
Think you don’t have time to exercise? Try this tactic: Look at your weekly calendar and find blocks of free time (even as little as 15 minutes) to schedule some workouts for the upcoming week. If you spend a little time scheduling your workouts for the week, just like you would do with your other obligations, they’ll become appointments that you can’t miss. Would you skip a dentist appointment or a dinner date with a friend? Of course not! Treat your workouts the exact same way. Plus, when you look at your calendar and see all of your appointments it helps you stick to your resolution.

Don’t get caught up in what the scale says
The scale is a good measure of overall weight loss, but it doesn’t tell you the whole story, especially when it comes to daily weigh-in. Obsessing over the scale every morning is not a healthy habit or an accurate gauge of your progress. Water retention and hormones can add a few pounds to the reading, and if your weight-loss plan includes strength training, you may even gain weight from increased muscle mass while still losing fat. Instead of getting caught up in what the scale says, measure your weight loss in inches and how your clothes fit. Be sure to look at the big picture when it comes to weight loss progress. The scale can be helpful, but remember there’s so much more to the story!

Read Tina’s daily food and fitness blog, Carrots ‘N’ Cake.