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'Slim by Design': A restart to intuitive eating?

Brian Wansink proposes a new website designed to help people manage their weight through easy lifestyle changes
Photo by Gallo Images/Getty Images

Most of us participate in 'mindless eating' as opposed to intuitive eating, grabbing food around schedules and deadlines, but yesterday, Aug. 24, Brian Wansink announced the development of a new website designed to make healthy choices an easy default. The proposed website, Slim by Design Method, is not promoting a fad diet, but is instead "an online lifestyle program that offers 3 unique, easy monthly tips that are guaranteed to help users lose 2+ lbs. each month."

Unique in both its lifestyle approach to health and weight management, the Slim by Design Method also is an evidence-based program. Wansink has made a career out of researching 'mindless eating' and this new approach has been tested and published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The study, called the National Mindless Eating Challenge (NMEC), was a "publicly available, online healthy eating and weight loss program" which recruited over 2,000 participants. These participants were then assigned to target three habit change suggestions or tips; at the end of each month they completed a follow-up survey on their progress and received new suggestions for the upcoming month.

Although there was high attrition in the study (over 75% of those completing the intake survey did not follow up), the results were still promising that this type of online program could be successful in changing behavior. Those participants who were adherent to the program (participating in following the suggestions at least 25 days out of the month) reported the most average monthly weight loss of 2 lbs. Barriers to participation included inapplicable suggestions, forgetting or being too busy to implement changes, unusual circumstances, and emotional eating. However, this initial study suggests that a simple and non-intrusive online lifestyle program could result in better weight management if barriers are addressed appropriately.

By aiming for 2 lbs of weight loss per month, Wansink's program offers a reasonable lifestyle change that differs considerably from extreme diets. As with any approach to weight loss, however, we need to be aware that there is the risk of a positive lifestyle change sliding down the slippery slope into disordered eating or an eating disorder. Individuals should consult medical professionals before attempting even this moderate program, and those with a history of disordered eating or an eating disorder may be advised not to participate. The most important issue will be in using the suggestions to effect positive change, but not allowing those suggestions to become obsessive rules.

Currently a kickstarter campaign has been created in order to fund the launching of Slim by Design and thereby allow individuals to subscribe. Brian Wansink has considerably expanded our understanding of mindless eating and now his website may help us create the small changes in our life that are needed to restart intuitive eating.

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