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"The Dieter's Paradoxshows why our most noble attempts to lose weight fall prey to classic human biases. Alex Chernev takes a potfull of interesting experiments to create an elegant, easily digestible collection of behavioral science research that illuminates our irrational eating decisions" --Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational
"Want to turn around your mindless eating? One place to start is with The Dieter's Paradox. It shows that our best intentions can trip us up and teaches us how to rewire our thinking to avoid decision traps such as health halos and the no-choice fallacy" --Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating: Why WeEat More Than We Think
"With this book Alex Chernev has provided something of immense value. He's shown us how to manage something we all care about by giving us great information hardly any of us knew about" --Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: Science and Practice
"Alex Chernev has discovered that many people believe they can cut a meal's calorie count by an ingenious method - adding more food!" --Scientific American
"The Dieter's Paradoxis a must-read for anyone who has tried to manage their weight and does not understand why they failed, and for anyone who has succeeded and wants to know what they're doing right" --Psychology Today
Alexander Chernev is a decision scientist who is studying how people make choices. He has won numerous awards for his teaching and research, including the Early Career Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association for his contribution to consumer psychology. His research has been published in leading academic journals and he has been widely quoted in the popular press, including Scientific American, Business Week, Forbes, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Harper's Magazine. He is not on a diet, but he often adds a healthy option to his meals.
"The Dieter's Paradox" is a guide through crowded minefield of decisions, specifically related to dieting.
The book shows clearly many reasons why it's exactly the people who decide to diet that gain more weight on average. The problem is that most people are "intuitive eaters", deciding to stop eating when they are reasonably full. This only leads to a moderate weight gain (~1 lb/yr), whereas when they start to diet they start relying on other, usually less precise methods. Instead of the average pound per year, their weight starts to fluctuate and they gain much more an average.
The book covers many of the psychological ways in which we are fooled when trying to estimate the caloric content of a meal. Most of us are terrible at it and often we are ignorant of this handicap. We are often unconsciously guided by emotions and heuristics that point us in the wrong direction. Before reading the book, write down how much extra calories you think a frosting ornament in the shape of a carrot would add to a piece of carrot cake. The results of actual tests might surprise you. Similarly, would the shape of a bottle change our opinion of the calorie content of a food item?
In a situation where our internal biology wants us to eat more, it is unexpectedly curious but understandable that seemingly opposite properties of food packaging can lead us to err in the same direction. For example, we have a tendency to finish food packages, and finish "what's on our plate". In this case increasing the size of portions leads people to overeat. However, drastically decreasing the size of portions is not a foolproof solution either.Read more ›
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As a constant dieter or carefully watching what I'm intaking, I found this book to be an interesting read and analysis of American dieting. From counting calories to attempting some of the fad diets such as the South Beach Diet to being diagnosed with gestational diabetes and following that diet, it's always been a mental battle of what I should eat and what I want to eat.
The Dieter's Paradox deconstructs a lot of theories and is such a breath of fresh air. While reading this, I had so many "doh!" moments where that makes sense! My favorite part of reading this book where it was a moment of clarity was when you had to choose which item had less calories. One of the examples was between a 6" Subway turkey breast sandwich or a McDonald's regular hamburger. I was naive and chose the Subway sandwich because I automatically assumed that it was the healthier choice. When I read that the burger had less calories, I was amazed to continue reading about other choices.
Dieter's Paradox was a quick and easy read that helped break down a lot of American dieting myths and deconstructs American food stereotypes. I only wish that I read this sooner and will definitely pass this along!
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Fun and easy to read, but full of information on why it's so hard to lose weight and keep it off. Everyone will come away with useful pointers, but this book really should be required reading for people like dieticians, nutritionists, personal trainers, fitness instructors, people who run weight-loss programs, etc., so they can pass on the insights it offers to their clients.
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Alexander Chernev is an associate professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. He holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Business Administration, and teaches the core marketing management course to MBA students, and behavioral decision theory to Ph.D. students. His research has been published in many leading marketing journals. This book is an explanation of his, and others', research in layman's terms.
Dr. Chernev asserts that we use faulty reasoning to choose the best foods to lose weight, mostly due to our classification of foods as "vices" or "virtues" from stereotypes (stereotyping bias), instead of nutritional value and calories; our attempts to "balance" healthy and unhealthy, with the belief that adding healthy to unhealthy foods will somehow lower the caloric value of the meal (balancing bias); our thinking in terms of meals, units, or events, instead of the total quantity of food consumed, (unit bias); our propensity to be influenced by the way options are presented (framing bias); our compulsion to be swayed by comparisons to other options, leading us to believe that we are making good decisions when we are not, (comparison bias); our daily behavior being inconsistent with our long-term goals (consistency bias), and our assignment of a higher priority to the other things in our life, such as price, convenience, and comfort, (priority bias). The paradox is that we make decisions contrary to knowledge and common sense.
This is not a diet book, but rather an informative work based on research and written in layman's terms. Dr. Chernev makes it very clear that he is not a medical doctor, nor a dietitian or nutritionist, but someone who studies how people make choices.Read more ›