How Your Mirror Can Help You Lose Weight
Weight loss can be a pretty tricky thing, since what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work the next, but some recent research suggests that looking in the mirror more might be a significant help for keeping off the weight.
Some researchers at the University of Central Florida set up a pretty simple experiment to see how being in the presence of a mirror could alter people’s food choices. They asked 185 undergraduate students to choose between two different food options, a fruit salad or a piece of cake. (Obviously the fruit salad was considered the healthy choice and the cake was considered the non healthy choice.)
Some of the students were given this choice while they were in a room where there was a mirror, and the rest were given the choice when they were in a room without a mirror. According to the researchers, the students who ate the cake in the room with a mirror didn’t think it tasted as good as the students who ate it in a room without a mirror, leading researchers to conclude that when in presence of a mirror people are more judgemental of their choice, and therefore don’t enjoy it as much.
The lead researcher Ata Jami suggests that mirrors make us more conscious of what is considered correct by social standards, and most people realize that cake is a less healthy choice than fruit salad. Jami suggests that we can rationalize eating a piece of cake if we feel like we’re getting away with it, but knowing that we’re not getting away with it makes it a lot less fun. We feel some sort of guilt when the mirror is there, even if we’re the only ones judging ourselves.
“A glance in the mirror tells people more than just about their physical appearance. [The mirror] enables them to view themselves objectively and helps them to judge themselves and their behaviors in a same way that they judge others.”
There is one catch however. The mirror only makes a difference in decision making if the person is choosing the food for themselves. When someone else chooses the food or the food is served being in the presence of the mirror does not make the people rethink their choice.
So the obvious reasoning here is that if you want to effect your own food choices you might try keeping a mirror around where you eat, but if you’re eating out or at another person’s house you’re going to need to take another tactic to cut down on your desire to sneak sweets. However a little balance is better than not, so put a mirror in your kitchen or on your refrigerator and see how it changes your choices.
Generally people eat unhealthy food simply because they think it tastes better, but if you can find a way to make it not so tasty then you might be in the clear.
About Kate Ferguson Kate Fergus is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blogs and online magazines. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce.