Have you ever wondered how some people can eat whatever they want, and still manage to stay slim? Research has finally got the bottom of it, and experts say their secrets include favouring quality over quantity, and more eating more home-cooked foods.

Some 168 participants in the survey helped scientists conclude that people who maintain slimness – or the "mindlessly slim" – are far less restrictive when it comes to their health, and have fewer preferences for certain foods. They listen to their body when eating – telling them to stop munching when full, and tend to eat more home-cooked foods than eat out.

The researchers presented their findings on 4 November at an Obesity Week 2015 conference, in Los Angeles, California.

"We wanted to see what health behaviours differed between those struggling to lose or maintain weight and the mindlessly slim," said Brian Wanksink, co-author of the study. Lead researcher Anna-Leena Vuorinen added: "These results are encouraging because they imply that instead of putting restrictions on one's diet and avoiding favourite foods, weight gain could be prevented early on by learning to listen to inner cues and putting emphasis on the quality instead of the quantity of food."

Researchers from Ithaca, New York created the Global Healthy Weight Registry survey as a way to discover the secret to living "mindlessly slim". The slender public were encouraged to fill out a questionnaire based on their lifestyle habits, and 168 responses were received.

The respondents were split into two groups; 93 mindlessly slim people, and 75 people that constantly worried about dieting and their weight.

Wansink said the point of splitting the respondents into two groups was because: "We wanted to find the small or simple behaviours that might have a big impact [to maintaining a slim figure]."

The comparisons of the groups showed that attitude towards eating plays a significant role in being mindlessly slim. The researchers concluded that in order to stay slim, we should stop eating when we are full, but also feel less guilty after we eat too much.

Despite 74% of the mindlessly slim respondents saying they rarely diet, their average BMI was 21.7 – almost smack bang in the middle of the "healthy" scale for their average weight of 136lbs (62kg).

Mindlessly slim
Results to the survey on the mindlessly slim Cornell Food and Brand Lab