So you think you can eat anything...
"So, you are a Foodie?"
Does this feel like being teased or reproached for your gluttonous behavior?
Fear not, for here's music to your ears!
A new study published by Dr. Brian Wansink and colleagues from Cornell University and University of Vermont shows that food neophiles or more adventurous eaters are associated with a lower Body Mass Index (BMI)!
According to the National Institute of Health in the United States, BMI is a measure of body fat that is based on a person's height and weight and is applied to both adult men and women.
A BMI range of 18.5 to about 25 is considered normal weight, whereas any number between 25 and 30 is considered overweight. If the BMI is greater than 30, that is classified as being obese.
The motivation for such a study was, Wansink says, "An interest in knowing whether having a wide appreciation for a variety of foods led the person to be overweight or instead healthier eaters. Because, if we find that being a foodie has its advantages, it is an easy change people can make in their lives- simply by exploring new foods, trying something new and different every couple of weeks".
In order to find out if adventurous eating had any effect on a person's BMI, the scientists took a sample size of 501 females in the United States.
These were young women with an average age of 26.8 and an average BMI of approximately 26.
Why were females and not males chosen for this study?
Wansink remarks, "We find that even though there are some men that cook and are responsible for meals, it still widely falls upon the women."
If we want a sustainable movement across generations, who better to target than mothers who serve as a role model to their children.
"In order to have generation of children to grow up with healthier eating habits, mothers can set an example by adopting healthier and better eating behaviors," says Wansink.
The researchers then separated the participants into 2 groups of eaters- adventurous and non-adventurous.
They were provided with a category of 16 exotic and interesting foods that included beef tongue, eel, quinoa, quail eggs etc. to name a few. The question to each participant was, how interested would you be to try these foods?
Participants who specified that they had tried greater than 9 of the 16 foods were placed in the neophile or adventurous category and those who tried less than 9 foods were grouped in the non-adventurous category.
Surprisingly, the results that they obtained were counterintuitive! They found that the more adventurous eater you are, the lower is your BMI!
"We also found very impressive behavior traits that foodies have, which the rest of them don't. For instance, they are much more likely to rate themselves as good cooks, more likely to have people over for dinner, concerned about the healthfulness of food and they are less likely to be overweight. It is also more likely that they exercise more," points out Wansink.
How can we eat right in order to have a healthy body weight?
In addition to the current publication, interesting solutions to these questions are offered in Wansink's book -"Slim by Design-Mindless eating solutions for everyday life", published last year.
"When most people want to lose weight, they try to become slim by will power. They keep track of calories, write food diaries etc.," says Wansink.
But people who have tried it know that it is not an easy and gratifying task. Moreover, it gets monotonous and boring at some point.
"Getting slim by will power is a 24/7 job. Instead, one can become slim by design, by making small changes to your home or workplace, or your child's school that can help you eat better," remarks Wansink.
The small changes that Wansink recommends for instance are, eating food in a plate that is between 9-10 inches, which could result in 22% less food consumption.
Similarly, having an uncluttered kitchen could mean that you snack 44% less.
"There are some really useful startup score cards and strategies to eat right in the website www.slimbydesign.org," comments Wansink.
For the future, Wansink has set his sights on Scandinavia. He plans to implement the "Slim by design" changes not only in people's homes but also restaurants and grocery stores in Norway.
Are you enticed enough by now, to become a food neophile? If yes, then go for it!
And you can bask in the glory of being known as a foodie!
Image credit: http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2012/06/romina-moradi-vancouver-foodie-photos/
Food neophile --- here I come!! :)