Washington: Struggling to shed those extra kilos? Eat the same food every day, scientists say.
Researchers at the University of Buffalo in the US found that eating the same food over and over again in successive meals can make people so uninterested in the meals that they start eating less.
The study "provides a very interesting new piece to the obesity puzzle by suggesting that meal monotony may actually lead to reduced calorie consumption," said Shelley McGuire, a spokesperson for the American Society for Nutrition.
"The trick will be balancing this concept with the importance of variety to good nutrition," McGuire was quotedas saying by LiveScience.
For the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers recruited 32 women and engaged them in a computer task. They were given a serving of
macaroni and cheese each time they completed their task.
All of the women completed five of such sessions over the study`s course, but half of the women participated in one session every day for five consecutive days, while the other
half participated once a week for five weeks.
Women who ate macaroni and cheese every day for a week were found to be taking in 100 fewer calories each day than normal by the week`s end.
Whereas the women whose sessions were spaced one week apart were eating about 30 more calories a day by the study`s end, the researchers said.
The findings show that eating the same food daily makes us habituated to it, whereas eating it weekly does not, they said.
The researchers also looked at the effects of obesity on habituation -- it has earlier been proposed that obese people may take longer to develop habituation to foods.
However, the new study showed no difference in how long it took obese participants to become habituated to the macaroni compared to how long it took the non-obese women.
The researchers concluded that reducing variety in food choices could be an important strategy for those trying to lose weight.
Previous research has shown that increased variety in the diet is associated with greater body weight and poor choice of foods, the researchers wrote.
However, the researchers said it remains unknown how similar foods have to be to each other to produce the habituation effect. For example, they wrote, "Will someone
show long-term habituation to consecutive meals of cheese pizza, pepperoni pizza and mushroom pizza?"
Similar to the way that drug addicts develop a need to increase their dose to feel the same effects, studies have shown that we become habituated to the foods that we eat often, said McGuire.
However, it was not known whether this would lead to an actual decrease in the calories we eat, nor was it known how often we have to eat the same thing to become habituated