“Hourglass” Diet: Sigh With Relief, Cakes Are Allowed!

New sensational nutrition plan of the American Duke University offers a fresh look at the advice that is familiar to all people who try losing weight – “cultivate willpower.” Dietetics and psychology have productively joined their forces: “hourglass” diet begins not with the massacre over cakes, but with special exercises for self-knowledge. Love for healthy food will follow by itself. By the way, no one forbids goodies!

Many of us have experienced periods of dramatic break-ups and reunions with harmful food. And every time we started thinking that we had control of the situation, pizza and chocolate again wormed their way into our confidence!

Relationship with food often resembles destructive personal relationships. Even knowing that we will face only shame, disappointment and tears, again and again we keep making the same mistake.

We do so because we are hoping for the best? No, only out of habit – believe the experts of the famous Duke University (USA). Ruth Uolever and nutritionist Beth Reardon were the first researchers to fully combine psychology and dietetics.

Based on successful experiments on “retraining” heavy gluttons, they created a system that consistently trains to eat properly and choose healthy foods. 

Do you want to lose weight permanently and escape from the hateful “yo-yo” cycle, when hardly lost pounds quickly come back? Give a new chance to your “romance with food” through “Hourglass” diet!


Eating without hesitation is so simple! It is a pity that you have to pay for frivolity with a perfect body shape that keeps getting further and further from an ideal.

We have lunch at the workplace, a snack while buried in our smartphone, throw popcorn in our mouth without looking up from a movie.

  • Seductive sweet, salty, spicy dishes and snacks tempt at every turn.

It is not surprising that the habit of constantly chewing something sticks to many of us from childhood, and becomes an automated skill like tying shoelaces or driving a car.

Diet Main

In addition to the script from our subconscious that constantly whispers to take another piece of cake and throw a couple of candies in our mouth, chemical reactions also kick into action.

The more harmful food we eat, the more we want.

If you are dreaming of obtaining a body whose shape resembles an hourglass, use this nifty accessory to get rid of your habit of eating quickly and illegibly.

At the heart of the new diet, which keeps gaining more and more followers in the UK and the US, lies a complex of psychological techniques, known as mindfulness (i.e. awareness, thoughtfulness).

  • According to the common interpretation, mindfulness is a simplified European adaptation of the Buddhist vipassana, insight meditation.

Mindfulness practitioners do what the artists and poets of all time dream of, and namely:

Catch the moment

Concentrate on their feelings

Refrain from assessing

Avoid linking new experiences with previous experience

Everything for them is like the first time and everything is unique!

“Hourglass” diet system that involves using mindfulness-psychology refers to the roots of an unhealthy relationship to food and offers to consistently break down behavioral stereotypes that resulted into excess weight and build new ones instead.

You don’t need to turn into Buddhism or defend a degree in psychology. The system by Uolever Ruth and Beth Reardon offers simple exercises, techniques and tips to help you get rid of emotional eating, habits to eat your stress up and night raids on the fridge.

Experts at Duke University have found experimentally that:

Mastering a conscious attitude to food, bringing new skills to automaticity, and in addition, losing weight significantly required about 16 months.

The name “Hourglass” was not invented by the authors of diet.

The followers of this diet gave it its title, which has two versions. 

Firstly, the graceful female figure is often compared with the same time measuring device.

Secondly, the hourglass (or their prosaic modern equivalent – kitchen timer), are recommend by Ruth and Beth to use both in mini-meditations and to learn to eat slowly.

  • Chew your feelings!

Instead of making you suffer through another popular weight loss diet on cucumbers or low-fat yogurt, “hourglass” diet offers you to learn mindfulness in life in general, and food in particular.

This diet plan promises that you will naturally start eating less and choosing more healthy foods, when you start to think about what and how much you send in your mouth, as well as note the feelings and emotions you have during this experience.

Conscious nutrition will teach you to understand yourself better and to separate cases, when you are truly hungry form the episodes of eating from boredom, loneliness, or out of habit.

Chew your feelings

Awareness is not just a psychological trick. 

Experiments have shown that people, who regularly practice the exercises of “Hourglass” diet not only managed to cope with their habit of eating out of automaticity, but became calmer, less experienced discomfort (headaches, neuralgia), improved their immunity, and began to steadfastly resist depression.

How to develop mindfulness in eating? The best exercises of “hourglass” diet

  • Conscious attitude to nutrition is not hard to master.

The more you practice, the faster you will restructure your habits, become leaner and start feeling better.

  • Just take a few free minutes to have a mini-meditation:
  • Stop and look around. What do you see? Imagine that you just got here for the first time. Think how you would describe this place to someone, who is far and never was here.
  • Close your eyes and listen. What’s going on around you?
  • Take a deep breath. What do you smell?
  • How does your body feel? Feet, hands, head, shoulders, stomach, and skin?
Mini Meditation
  • What is your mind busy with? Plans? Regrets? Recalls? Critics?

Your task is not making an assessment of the situation, but momentary observation of the situation and their feelings. Repeat this mini-meditation three times a day, and mindfulness becomes sharper.

For the exercises, you can also use an alarm clock, a kitchen timer or the notorious hourglass, starting with a couple of minutes per session, and gradually increase the duration of meditation to 15 minutes.

Another exercise that is offered by the authors of “Hourglass” diet is called “20 breaths.” It is also recommended to perform three times a day, in combination with mini-meditation or separately.

  • Sit down in a comfortable position, close your eyes.
  • Imagine that your stomach shrinks and swells up like a balloon, when you exhale and inhale. Exhale is the air coming out of the ball easily and completely.
  • Count to yourself, “first inhale – first exhale”, until you get to ten, and then continue, but with a countdown from nine to zero.
  • Experience every breath (inhale-exhale) as a separate event.

This exercise is very useful as an aid in the fight against temptations, including gastronomic ones.

It helps you learn to ignore the teasing and distracting factors.

You can complement your regular training program of awareness with measuring your hunger level. For example, consider a “satiety rating”, with scores from 1 ( “starving to death”) to 7 ( “clearly eaten too much and going to burst”). As you will be listening to yourself, you will learn to understand, whether you truly want to eat, and if so, how many and what food.

If you want to lose weight, start eating no later than your hunger reaches score “two” ( “moderately hungry, discomfort in stomach”), and complete the meal when you feel that you have reached “five” ( “no longer feel hungry and realized that stomach began to stretch”).


Addictive food is clingy as a market shill! Yet, there are ways to reduce the amount of harmful substances in your diet, and gradually get rid of them at all without reading any tedious notations to yourself.

Just make it a rule:

  • add chopped spinach or other greens, and tomatoes into your scrambled eggs or omelets;
  • be sure to eat a serving of leafy vegetables or stewed lentils for lunch;
  • put grated or sliced ​​carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, and broccoli into your sandwiches, casseroles, sauces, salads;
  • replace some of the meat in the meat dishes, including cutlets and meatballs, into mashed beans or kidney beans, gradually increasing contents of beans and decreasing meat contents (in case if you want to reduce the amount of meat in your diet and are not contraindicated to a predominantly vegetarian diet).
  • add green leafy vegetables in your morning fruit smoothie (you probably already know that the most useful breakfast for weight loss is citrus smoothie with leafy greens);
  • thicken your soups and sauces not with flour or floury products, but with amaranth, millet and tofu;
  • flavor your cereal, yogurt and salads with chopped nuts;
  • use mashed avocado as an alternative to mayonnaise and other spreads and sauces that you normally use for sandwiches and salads;
  • add whole or ground flax seeds in smoothies, yogurt and porridge.

These simple and delicious measures will allow you to receive fewer chemicals, fast carbs and trans fats, as well as to maintain satiety for longer.


While keeping the “hourglass” diet, the more often you perform the mindfulness exercises, the more confidently you suppress harmful habits and develop more useful ones.

Here is what you should do, when meal time comes.

  • Prior to a meal, ask yourself a simple question: Am I really hungry? Will this food bring any good to me? How much am I planning to eat and how will I understand that it is time to stop?
  • Take the smallest plate and ask for the most modest part of the overall dish. Always make sure your plate is balanced: vegetables should make up half the amount of the meal (try to choose non-starchy vegetables), quarter – protein (both animal and vegetable origin), another quarter – slow carbohydrates.
  • Eat slowly. Take at least half a minute for a quiet meditation. Stop after eating 10 spoons and listen to your feelings and the “behavior” of hunger. Eat with one hand, which you don’t usually use for eating, eat with chopsticks – in short, use any tricks to slow down the process.
  • Take a ten-minute break after you ate half of your portion. It is important to let your brain recognize the signals of satiety.
  • If you are quite full, and there is still food on your plate, you shouldn’t necessarily eat everything till the end – “Society of clean plates” turns us into fat people!

“Hourglass” diet: a check-list for your plate

Imagine in detail what you are going to eat, look at this imaginary plate and ask it (in fact, of course, yourself) such questions, as:

  • Can I replace some carbohydrates with their whole-grain versions?
  • Where is my protein (meat, fish, beans, cottage cheese, eggs)?
  • Is there enough vegetables and herbs in this dish?
  • Is my food pretty? Maybe I should add something red? Or something yellow? Or maybe blue? Fruits and vegetables have their color due to a variety of antioxidants. This means that the more colorful the food is, the more benefits it will bring you.
  • Are there any healthy fats (first cold press oil, nuts, avocados, seeds) on my plate?


Through their experiments on people losing weight, the authors of “hourglass” diet found out that “experimental objects” three times more likely ate the first thing seen in the fridge, instead of revising on their reserves, comparing and making deliberate decisions.

Of course, the more you practice mindfulness, the fewer will be the threat of a spontaneous choice. But why tempt fate? Just fill your fridge with foods that will do you good.

“Hourglass” diet plan – daily menu
Attention, a serving means not some certain amount of food, but the number of times that you can include food of this type in your daily menu. For example, some greens to your scrambled eggs, baked cauliflower as a full meal and a few sticks of celery as a snack equal to three servings of vegetables.

  • Vegetables and fruits: 9 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruit (as part of a main meal or as a snack)
  • Whole grains: 3 to 5 servings daily. You can use brown rice, long preparation oatmeal, buckwheat, quinoa, barley and dishes cooked from their meal.
  • Protein: 6 to 9 servings of fish, lean beef, chicken, turkey and pig meat; cheese, ready-made beans, lentils, chickpeas. This category also includes Greek yogurt and other white plain yogurt, nuts, milk, eggs, protein powder and nut paste.
  • Healthy fats: 9 to 11 servings per day of olive oil, butter, avocado, pesto, chia seeds and other nuts and seeds, as well as oils obtained by cold pressing or using a screw press. You should also never forget about the sesame oil. Heating it is not recommended, yet it works perfectly for adding an exotic flavor to ready meals.
  • Sweeteners: “Hourglass” diet allows using stevia plant extract as a sugar substitute. You can feast on honey, but very sparingly.

Authors of the diet are confident that people should have a gradual approach to giving up on longstanding habit to consume fast food, soda, and other sources of fast carbs.

  • Prepare dishes that are rich in plant fiber. In each of your meals, try combining complex carbs, lean proteins and healthy fats.

For example, if you decide to eat an apple, eat it with a teaspoon of peanut butter:

Cellulose, pectin and water from the fruit will physically fill your stomach

The useful fats will signal the brain that your body is full

“Hourglass” diet plan has two main recommendations for meals schedule:

  • in the morning, it is desirable to have breakfast
  • in the evening, you should finish your contact with food as soon as it gets dark.

There is no strict ban on eating, for example, after six in the evening.

The person that wants to lose weight bears full responsibility for his health and satiety.

This diet will help you keep to this rule because it will teach you to eat consciously.


With practice, you will learn to achieve satiety faster and better – and enjoy delicacies without feeling any guilt. Ruth Uolever and Beth Reardon don’t mind, if people who follow the “hourglass” diet, enjoy a dessert from time to time. “Conscious eater” can eat cakes and chocolate, yet he enjoys every crumb and knows exactly when to stop!

Any food with a pronounced taste gives us a peak-mannered sense. First, our pleasure increases and then decreases. We reach the ultimate moment, i.e. the “pleasure point”, due to complex physical and chemical reactions in our brain.


If you eat in large pieces and fast, you can even skip this gastronomic orgasm. Your brain won’t have time to process the data about the taste, the smell, the texture of food and put them into one perfect whole. You will continue to eat, eat and eat in a desperate attempt to achieve happiness, but to no avail.

Thus, Ruth and Beth offer original instructions for eating goodies. They took a piece of chocolate cake to exemplify the instructions.

  • Put a slice of cake in front of you, close your eyes, fold your hands on your stomach and take 4-5 light inhales and exhales.
  • Open your eyes and take the plate. Continue tracking your feelings and emotions, and imagine that you see a cake for the first time in your life.  Would you be able to draw it? Pay attention to the shape, color, size of the piece.
  • Pay attention to what’s happening in your stomach and mouth, what thoughts come to your mind. Do not attempt to evaluate or straighten yourself, just watch the reaction.
  • Now turn your attention to the smell. What does the cake smell like? Is there just chocolate or it also has notes of vanilla, cream, maybe earthy overtones?
  • Rub a few crumbs of cake into your lips so as to obtain only a hint of flavor. What is the texture of the cake? Is it similar to a souffle or grainy? Does it melt?
  • Now put a piece in your tongue, but do not swallow right away. Move the cake in your mouth. Do your feelings change? How does the taste transform? Let the piece melt.
  • Pay attention to how much you like chewing and swallowing the piece. What does your esophagus feel? And your stomach? Try to discern every nuance of experience.

Repeat with each piece and stop eating, when it becomes obvious that your impressions are much less fresh and bright. 

You have reached the point of bliss, congratulations! Now you know exactly, what a gourmet space can hide in a humble piece of a delicacy.