HEALTH & WELLNESS Nutrition  >  Dieting Goes Scientific

Dieting Goes Scientific

Dieting Goes Scientific
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BY KITT WALSH

I am on a diet…a big diet. By that I mean I am aiming to lose a ton of weight that has crept up on me after menopause + my thyroid being removed + a decade long romance with a man who insisted we go out to eat every night and those nights were filled with pasta and bread.

I have been here before. I have lost many pounds in my day. Twice I have lost 60 pounds or more and have no doubt I will do so again, but this time I have some help. There is a new product developed to control cravings and, according to the reviews, it seems to be working.

MealEnders are lozenges that are drug and stimulant-free called “signaling lozenges” designed to help people avoid overeating and master portion control by clearing the desire to eat more than is needed. Unlike extreme diets, meal replacements, appetite suppressants or supplements that focus solely on your stomach and what does or doesn’t go in it, MealEnders works with your body’s natural hunger rhythms using a combination of behavioral psychology and sensory science.

The lozenges, about the size of a cough drop, come in four flavors: Chocolate Mint, Cinnamon, Mocha and Citrus. Each lozenge is composed of two components—a sweet outer “reward” layer and a cooling tingling inner core. The outer layer provides a measured dose of “dessert”, usually associated with the end of a meal. The inner core engages the trigeminal nerve (that’s the nerve that senses taste sensations in your mouth) with long-lasting cooling/tingling sensations to cue the end of eating and clear your palate.

The idea is, by keeping your mouth and mind occupied for up to 20 minutes after a meal, you will avoid what WillPower Labs, the inventor of MealEnders calls, “The Overeating Zone”. That’s the zone where you are actually full, but keep eating anyway. The lozenges fool your mouth and brain long enough to give your body’s satiety signal time to catch up, naturally transitioning you away from the desire to overindulge. (A nice way to yell into your own brain, “Back away from the food!”)

Tami Lynn, chief nutritionist for the company says,” MealEnders catalyze behavioral change by retraining the mind to stop eating with the eyes. By engaging the consumers both mentally and physically, the signaling lozenges heighten awareness of natural satiety signals, helping you regulate portion size and master the habit of mindful eating.”

“Mindful eating” is what I try to do on any diet. I chew my daily apple until it is sauce; use tiny plates to make food look bigger; eat only one food at a time; make sure I get something crunchy at every meal so my mouth, ears and brain know I am eating; and eat with a shrimp fork to make smaller mouthfuls which make meals last longer. MealEnders is designed to help break the cycle of eating and chewing, engage that trigeminal nerve to cue my brain that I am done eating (creating a habitual cue that the fork has been put down for the last time at this current meal), give me a little taste of something sweet so I don’t feel so deprived that I can’t have ice cream like the rest of the family and, sneakily, the cooling sensation makes any additional food I might be tempted to shove in my yaw taste weird.

The CEO of Willpower Labs, Mark Bernstein, invented the lozenges to deal with his own struggle with eating too much.

“I needed help putting down the fork, but wanted to do it on my own, not relying on stimulants, drugs or unsustainable “magic bullets,” he says.

So he talked to health professionals, dieticians, culinary specialists and weight loss experts before deciding that what he was looking for didn’t exist and engaging a food development firm to create it.

So, does it work? So far, so good. I haven’t gone off my diet, nor even been tempted to do so, since I started a month ago. I have used the lozenges (chocolate mint and mocha, so far, though I have cinnamon and citrus on standby) every now and again to tamp down a craving. The sugary coating is fine, but I find the cooling/tingling inner core to taste a bit like Vick’s VapoRub, but if that is what triggers that nerve to stop wanting to bury my face in a loaf of crusty bread slathered with butter and marmalade, more power to the lozenges.

Each one contains two grams of sugar, 15 calories and contains no high fructose corn syrup or MSG. The lozenges are also stimulant-free, gluten-free and even kosher and are regulated by the FDA as a food product. They cost $14.95 for 25 lozenges of one flavor, $34.95 for three 25-piece packs in your choice of flavors or $89.95 (called a 90-day supply) of nine 25-piece packs in your choice of flavors. Read what other people think of them online (where you order them, too) at www.mealenders.com and best of luck with your own diet. See you at the gym.

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