The Health Halo

In the past I’ve written about a type of bias we have called the halo effect. If a person possess a single positive attribute, like they’re good looking, we’ll automatically believe that they possess other positive attributes, like they’re smart, funny, good with money, etc. The Health Halo This halo effect doesn’t just relate to people, it also relates to food. Our ability to evaluate a food can easily be derailed by some simple buzzwords. It alters your perception of calories. For example, if a food is labelled as “low-fat” or “fat-free”, people will typically underestimate the … [Read more...]

How Our Mind Fills In The Gaps

Take a look at the picture below… When you look at it, what do you see? Hopefully you see a load of strawberries on top of a pastry of sorts that is sitting on a table. Now if I were to ask you the colour of the strawberries in the picture, what’s your response? My bet is that you’d say red. It seems obvious because they sure look red. Well it turns out that this is an optical illusion. There are no red pixels in the image above. The photo was created by Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a Professor of Psychology at Ritsumeikan University in Japan, who specialises in creating optical … [Read more...]

The Slow Progression of Symptoms

There is a fable many people have heard. It often comes up at corporate consulting gigs or in self-help circles. The fable has to do with boiling a frog. It states that if you put a frog in boiling water, it will immediately jump out. But if you put it in a pan with cold water and slowly bring it to a boil, the frog will sit there and be boiled to death. Despite the fact that this fable is false, there is some truth in the sentiment it is trying to express. Which is that, when change is small and gradual we don’t typically notice it. These incremental changes become the new … [Read more...]

Using C.A.N To Improve Your Eating

This month I spent a couple of days doing nothing but going through research looking at how the environment affects our eating behaviour. It culminated in me releasing two podcasts on the topic (which you can listen to here and here). One of the big things I’m constantly trying to work on with clients is how to make eating healthful food easy and habitual. So rather than having to use willpower at every meal and remind themselves about the long term benefits of a higher fruit and vegetable intake, they set up the environment so that healthful choices happen automatically. A recurring … [Read more...]

Demonising Macronutrients

For a long time we’ve been fighting “macro-nutrient wars.” Macronutrients refer to carbohydrates, protein and fats, and for the last 50 plus years we’ve been demonising at least one of them. In the late 70s through to the 90s it was fat that was the bad guy. We were told that if we just kept our fat low, everything would work out fine.* From the 2000s to present, the blame starts to move to carbohydrates. They became the villain that we all need to look out for. But this constant focus on macronutrients really misses the point. Because the biggest change to our eating over the last … [Read more...]

Possibility, Probability and the Survivorship Bias

I’m a big fan of Tim Ferriss’ podcast. I haven’t read any of his books and I’m sceptical of some of the health advice I’ve heard him give, but he’s a skilled interviewer and has an eclectic mix of guests on his show. One of the ideas I’ve heard him reference a number of times is the survivorship bias. Survivorship bias is the logical error of focusing on the people or things that “survived” some process, but inadvertently overlooking those that did not, because of their lack of visibility. This can lead to overly optimistic beliefs because failures are ignored. Let me give a … [Read more...]

Over-Identification In Recovery

Recovering from disordered eating can be a rocky experience. Despite a desire for a magic wand to instantly make things better (or how they used to be), it takes time, patience and work to get to a place of being a “normal” eater. A big part of making this change is increasing body and food awareness. Getting people to relearn how to listen to their cues for hunger and fullness. Learning non-food and non-exercise coping skills, as well as the ability to sit with discomfort. Delving into the reasons below the surface level responses of why this is happening because food issues typically … [Read more...]