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How dieting terminology can lead to “dieting” mistakes
You sit down to order at a cafe. You’re currently “ON DIET”, your status necessitates that you choose very wisely. To be safe you turn to the section labelled salads. Glance through the options and make your choice.
You may not be acting as virtuously as you think.
When a salad is not a salad
Traditionally the term salad, referred to a collection of vegetables and herbs, that had been cut up and seasoned, and were served raw. greens
These days, restaurant salads can include a variety of less traditional ingredients including :
That “pasta salad” would sit quite comfortably in the Pasta Section of the menu. But in the pasta section, you would have given it a miss. The restaurateur knew this, so he added a lettuce leaf, jacked up the price and stuck the dish in the salad section.
Dieters being duped
Research reported in the Journal of Consumer Research, found that dieters were frequently conned by terminology.
The team were able to demonstrate the phenomenon in a group of downtown “shoppers”.
They stopped 77 shoppers and asked to do a THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. They imagined that they were at their favourite restaurant, which was offering A SPECIAL, on a pasta-cum-salad meal. The ingredients included diced tomatoes, onions and red peppers tossed with pasta shells, salami, mozzarella cheese and dressed with a savoury herb vinaigrette. Served chilled on a bed of fresh romaine lettuce.
In the thought experiment, the dish was served either as “a salad” or “a pasta”.
The shoppers were asked to rate how healthy the meal was and then, they completed a little survey, to establish if they were currently ON DIET.
The response varied according to the person’s dieting status.
The dieters perceived the meal to be less healthy, when it was called “a pasta”. Those individuals not dieting, were unconcerned about the health connotations of the meal and failed to make the “healthful” link.
So what……….this is a thought experiment. No food was actually consumed – surely dieters would not make the mistake of eating more. Well… not really.
Dieters don’t always think
Our team moved from the streets to the lab, to test what would ACTUALLY happen, in a real life scenario. Since they weren’t rich enough to provide 100s of meals, they did part 2, on college students, feeding them chews and paying them with course credits.
The chews were either marketed as candy or fruit chews.
To reinforce the point, the students were privy to the ingredient list and the researchers made sure, they actually read the ingredient list, by quizzing them afterwards. Those who failed the test, were removed from the study.
Exactly the same thing happened…………
Dieters put the fruit chews on a pedestal, or maybe it would be more accurate to say, they “trashed” the candy chews.
Graph showing the amount of chews eaten by students. © 2011 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH,Inc.
And them, they ate more of them, when they were given an opportunity to snack on them.
Eish ! Talk about a diet faux pas.
Could this be happening to you ?
Dieter beware of conditioning
The team tried to unpack, why dieters, who on paper at least, should be more attuned to healthy foods, were so easily dubed.
They suspect the diet fail, happened because of conditioning.
Dieting is HARD WORK
You have to think about what to eat, when and how much. And to make matters worse, when you’re DIETING, being a little hungry goes with the territory.
Our team speculated that dieters brains are looking for short cuts………….
Years and years of marketing, have led to foods being classified as “good” or “bad”. When a dieter encounters a so called “good” food, they let their guard down.
And since they’re typically a little hungry, it’s easy to overdo it.
In contrast to the dieter, the non-dieter is motivated by one thing – is what is on offer, “good to eat”. If it is, they will tuck in, until THEY’VE HAD ENOUGH.
Since they’re not chronically deprived, ENOUGH is reached sooner.
Now for the bad news…………….the food industry is out to sabotage your diet.
Exploiting the dieters’ fixation
Okay, that might be a bit over the top, but the food industry is in business to make profits.
They only make profit when you buy.
The food industry is aware that food terms can become tainted in the dieters head. They know the dieter is on the lookout for specific terms, so they change the terms. By modifying the offensive term, the food item moves from the “bad” category to the “good”.
Katching, katching – money in the cash register.
And an extra layer of fat on your hips !
It is all in the name
Some “other” products masquerading as “healthful”, when their true healthfulness is subject to debate, include :
- Potato chips are “veggie chips”
- Milkshakes are “smoothies’
- Sugary drinks are “flavoured water”
- The word “organic” elevates foods to healthful in a flash. Organic cookies are still full of sugar !
Study the list of ingredients
So if you’re ON DIET and considering popping something into your mouth. STOP. Don’t assume anything – read the list of ingredients, then decide whether to tuck in or skip out.
If you’re weight watching, the question to ask about a food, is not, what is the carb count, but what is it’s texture. Soft foods, aka processed foods, are driving obesity.
If you crunch the numbers – a glass of apple juice can actually have a few more calories than a glass of cola. And those calories are not equal.
Modern food processing techniques mean we’re increasingly eating fake food. The extra and missing ingredients in our diet are making us fat and sick.