Come on, you can tell me. You’re an adult now so hopefully you didn’t resort to the old under-the-napkin or feed-it-to-the-dog tricks. Did you get the leafy greens out with the full intent of sauteeing them with some lovely garlic and shallots that you picked up at the farmer’s market on the way home from work (On your bike. While exhaling oxygen and inhaling CO2, you’re that green.) and then forgot all about them as you were seduced by the sleazy siren call of the Hungry Man? Or did you actually cook ’em up, reveling in your wicked cookery skillz, and then take a bite only to remember exactly why you had to have the produce man show you the spinach and even then you didn’t recognize it until he laid that limp bundle in your hands?
People lie. This might surprise you – if you live in Coke land, perhaps. The rest of us are quite aware that everyone lies in this culture of photoshopped-in cellulite and airbrushed-out navels, of vanity sizing and Spanx, of Internet gossip and PR spin. The problem is, we don’t realize that “everyone” includes us.
I could ask you to tell me, honestly, how many servings of fruit and veggies you’ve eaten today. But you would probably lie to me. And the worst part? You might not even know it!
The Lying Study
A recent study demonstrated this point by mailing out flyers to random households. (You know, I almost love snail-mail junk mail. Sure I get some crap credit card applications or expired coupons for an oil change but I’ve yet to see a “VIA&*RA” ad that misspells the male anatomy seven different ways come through my local post office.) Anyhow, half of the mailers contained information about the “Five a Day” campaign and a fridge magnet while the other half were “generic,” which I have no idea what that means when it comes to junk mail. Were the generic letters just, “Hey! Miss you! Remember that time when, yeah… Me neither. L8rs!”? I love researchers.
10 days later they followed up with the (unwitting) participants and asked them how many servings of fruit or vegetables they’d eaten in the past 24 hours. The group that got the “Five a Day” letter, reported – shockingly – 5.2 servings. I’m guessing the added 0.2 serving was for good measure, just so the random stranger polling them would know that they eat every last green been on their plate, even the smooshed halvsie. The group that got the generic letter reported only 3.7.
The two groups were large and random enough that the responses should have been similar.
But they weren’t because the first group was lying. And further more, the researchers postulated that they didn’t even realize that they were lying. They had convinced themselves that they had actually eaten more produce.
The Lying Consequences
It’s a documented fact that people underestimate the number of calories they eat in a day, usually by one-third. And now you know that people overestimate the servings of healthy
food they eat every day. So who cares if some poor undergrads got lied to over the phone? (Doesn’t that pretty much sum up the dating scene freshman year anyhow?)
Your health cares. If you sincerely believe you are undereating on calories and overeating on vegetables then you won’t be able to make the necessary exercise and nutrition adjustments to compensate. This is why so many diet plans call for food journals. You just can’t trust yourself.
Although if you are too lazy to journal and really good at observing, Men’s Health has a really cool article about how to tell if someone is lying. I tried these today while standing in front of my mirror and lying. I think it actually kinda worked. Not sure what that says about me.
How about you? How do you stay honest? Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies…