On March 4th, 2014, Kinesiology & Health Science student Luke Durward gave a TedTalk at York University in Toronto, Canada.

Now 24-years-old, Durward’s message was directed at people who are interested in losing weight, but who were having a hard time doing so.

The advice he revealed in his talk was too obvious to be labelled a secret, but, even so, it’s something that’s often overlooked by perennial dieters.

Durward tells the audience about his 11-year-old brother, who was quite overweight for his age.

Being a good older brother Durward is obviously concerned about his brother’s weight gain and wants to help him out any way he can.

So when Durward slips on some ice and is recovering from his injury, he decides to move back home for two weeks and take control of what his brother eats.

And while the strategy he used is far from earth-shattering, it proved to be very effective.

So effective in seven days, his brother lost 5 lbs.; after 14 days he lost 8 lbs; after 20 days he lost 10 lbs. and after 36 days he lost 18 lbs. In total, he lost 20 lbs and, more importantly, his brother has managed to keep the weight off.

So what was Durward’s advice?

It’s based on the premise that “if you don’t have it, you can’t eat it.”

He simply removed all the junk food from the house.

Makes obvious sense right?

If you only have fruits and vegetables in the house, it’s very difficult to eat an entire row of chocolate chip cookies.

Of course, you could drive to the store and get some, but if you force yourself to do that every time, chances are, you’ll soon decide that staying at home and eating an apple or a carrot is a more prudent use of your time and resources.

Here are four other ways you can gently push yourself towards a healthier lifestyle:

Eat something healthy immediately before you go shopping for food – A study by the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab found that people who ate an apple sample bought 25% more fruits and vegetables than those who did not eat an apple sample. When compared to people who ate a cookie sample, that figure when up 3% to 28%. Cornell research Aner Tal PhD says, “What this teaches us is that having a small healthy snack before shopping can put us in a healthier mindset and steer us towards making better food choices.”

Eat a broth-based soup to start each meal – A 2007 Penn State study found that eating a low-calorie soup will reduce the number of calories you consumed during your entire meal. The soups tested were made from chicken broth, broccoli, potato, cauliflower, carrots and butter. One thing researchers found that may surprise some is that the thickness of the soup didn’t matter. Their tests showed that low-calorie soup is filling regardless of what form it’s presented in. Julie Flood, a doctoral student in nutrition sciences at Penn State says, “Using this strategy allows people to get an extra course at the meal, while eating fewer calories. But make sure to choose wisely, by picking low-calorie, broth-based soups that are about 100 to 150 calories per serving. Be careful of higher-calorie, cream-based soups that could actually increase the total calories consumed.”

Focus your use of pain and pleasure – “Use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. That’s the secret to success. You do that and you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you,” says motivational expert Tony Robbins. So how do you use pain and pleasure when it comes to eating healthy? Let’s say you’re debating whether to eat a chocolate bar. Robbins, who believes that avoiding pain is a greater motivator than gaining pleasure, says that what you shouldn’t do is think of how good it will taste to eat the chocolate. Instead focus on how much weight you’ll potentially gain…how it will be a struggle to get into your clothes…and how guilty you’ll feel should you eat it. A 2014 study by the Obesity Society confirmed this. Researcher Dr. Kathryn Demos PhD says that “Our results show the promising possibility that focusing on the long-term consequences of consuming unhealthy foods could help diminish cravings and, as a result, potentially enhance weight-loss efforts.”

Look away, turn down the volume, change the channel or fast forward through food commercials. – Nutritional expert Michael Pollan famously offered the following advice: “Don’t buy any food you’ve seen advertised.” Kathleen Page, M.D. assistant professor of medicine at USC Keck School of Medicine had this to say about a recent study she authored, “Research suggests that looking at images of high-calorie foods increases our appetite and cravings for these foods, which makes it difficult to resist the urge to seek out and eat them.” She also recommends keeping a bowl of fruit or sliced vegetables within easy reach at work and at home so that you’re tendency will be to reach out for them rather than unhealthy snacks.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore. Use as many of these five strategies as will fit into your lifestyle and chances are you may never have to go on a diet again.

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