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How Your Phone Could Help You Lead A Healthier Lifestyle

Your phone may be able to help you live a healthier lifestyle, according to a new study.

Being able to connect with a personal coach, who receives your nutrition and exercise information and can then support and encourage you, could help people to live healthier lifestyles, according to new research.

And participants in the study made healthier choices -- including eating more fruits and vegetables, and partaking in fewer sedentary activities -- even 20 weeks later, according to the study, published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from Northwestern University and other institutions enrolled 204 adults who were overweight and obese in the study. They were assigned one of four "lifestyle habits" for a period of three weeks: to eat more fruits and vegetables and to spend more time exercising; to eat more fruits and vegetables and to spend less time being sedentary; to lower fat intake and spend more time exercising; and to lower fat intake and to spend less time being sedentary.

The study participants were also all given mobile devices to record their eating and exercise habits over the study period. This data was sent to the study researchers, who emailed and called them to help motivate them and offer support.

Twenty weeks later, everyone was leading healthier lifestyles, particularly the participants who were asked to eat more fruits and veggies and decrease the amount of time they spent being sedentary. For these participants, daily fruit and veggie servings went up to 2.9 from 1.2 before the study, and they spent much less time being sedentary every day -- 219.2 minutes to 125.7 minutes a day.

These participants also consumed fewer daily calories from saturated fat -- 9.9 percent from 12 percent, before the study.

"Remote coaching supported by mobile technology and financial incentives holds promise to improve diet and activity," researchers wrote. "Targeting fruits/vegetables and sedentary leisure together maximizes overall adoption and maintenance of multiple healthy behavior changes."

For tips to eat mindfully, click through the slideshow below:

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  • Use A Bigger Fork

    A study published in the <em>Journal of Consumer Research</em> shows that restaurant-goers who <a href="" target="_hplink">eat with really big forks</a> (20 percent bigger than a normal fork you'd find at a restaurant) eat less food and leave more on their plates than people who eat with really small forks. A possible explanation for this finding is that when people use small forks to eat, they feel like they are not making any big <a href="" target="_hplink">progress in eating their meal</a> and quelling their hunger pangs, <em>TIME</em> reported. In addition, the restaurant-goers who ate with the smaller forks and were given bigger portions of food at much more food than if they just had the smaller forks or if they just had the bigger portions.

  • Eat From A Smaller Bowl

    Research from the Georgia Institute of Technology shows that people eat 31 percent more ice cream when they eat out of a 34-ounce bowl, rather than 17-ounce one, ScienceDaily reported. Researchers explained that's because people eat about 92 percent of what they serve themselves -- so if you <a href="" target="_hplink">serve yourself more, you'll eat more</a>.

  • Get Some Sleep

    Columbia University researchers found that <a href="" target="_hplink">sleep deprivation can also lead to more calories consumed</a>. They found that women who only got 4 hours sleep the night before ate 329 more calories in a nine-hour period compared with if they weren't sleep deprived, while men ate 263 more calories when <a href="" target="_hplink">sleep-deprived</a>. "It has an impact on cognitive restraint," study researcher Marie-Pierre St. Onge told ThirdAge. "High-fat food is tempting, and maybe on <a href="" target="_hplink">short sleep you can't restrain yourself</a> as well, while on full sleep you can resist more easily."

  • Mind Your Environment

    <a href="" target="_hplink">WHERE you eat your food</a> could also factor in to how much you eat and whether you're eating food even though you're not hungry, according to research from the University of Southern California. Researchers had movie-goers say whether they were regular popcorn-eaters or not, and then they had them eat either stale popcorn or freshly popped popcorn. The regular popcorn-eaters ate just as much stale popcorn as fresh popcorn, while people who didn't consider themselves regular popcorn-eaters ate significantly less stale popcorn than fresh since it didn't taste as good. "The results show just how <a href="" target="_hplink">powerful our environment can be</a> in triggering unhealthy behavior," study researcher David Neal said in a statement. "Sometimes willpower and good intentions are not enough, and we need to trick our brains by controlling the environment instead."

  • Hide The Junk Food

    Research from Cornell University shows that we are three times more likely to <a href="" target="_hplink">eat the first thing that we see</a>, compared with the fifth thing we see. In that study, researchers took photographs of 100 kitchen cupboards and asked the owners to keep records of what they ate. Researchers also tried moving the food around in the cupboards to see if that impacted their food choices -- and found that it did. The research shows that "we end up being masters of our own demise, to some extent," study researcher Professor Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think," told HuffPost.

  • Eat Using Your Non-Dominant Hand

    Research published in the <em>Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin</em> shows that <a href="" target="_hplink">eating with your non-dominant hand</a> can help you to decrease the amount of food you consume, CNN reported. The finding was part of the same movie-theater/popcorn study, where it was discovered that environment plays a part in mindless eating. Like in that experiment, researchers gave study participants either fresh or stale popcorn. They found that people who used their non-dominant hands and ate the stale popcorn ate 30 percent less than if they used their dominant hands, CNN reported.

  • How to Avoid Mindless Eating

    Food Think with Wansink: Economy-size snacks can cause you to eat more


Filed by Amanda L. Chan  |