Mindless Eating Tips Part 1

by Natalie on May 30, 2013

3618369967_068739eca7Right now I am reading the book called, Mindless Eating, by Brian Wansink. This book is an amazing wealth of knowledge, so I thought I would share what I have learned so far.

I thought you would appreciate to know that it’s an easy read too! Lots of great information, minus technical jargon.

The basis of this book centers around the psychology of eating, i.e what drives our eating behaviors.

Brian Wansink and his team conduct all sorts of fun eating experiments on people. In one, they used soup bowls that automatically refilled themselves to see how much people would eat. From these experiments, Wansink has been able to uncover some really interesting information on why we eat what we do.

If you want to learn about how you can change your environment to improve your eating habits, this is the book for you!

Here are some of the concepts I have picked up so far:

  1. If we consciously deny ourselves of something again and again, we’re likely to end up craving it more. I really want to look into this idea further. Wansink suggests checking out the work of Janet Polivy and Peter Herman, to learn more about this idea. I guess they are the go-to people on the subject.
  2. Stop eating when you are no longer hungry, not when you are full. Think about 80% full. Supposedly this is how the Okinawains eat – the World’s longest lived people. There is a book called the Okinawa Program, that I want to check out for more insight on this topic.
  3. Pre-plate all the food you think you will eat, before you eat it. We can eat 14% less this way, vs. going back and forth to get seconds or thirds.
  4. The bigger the package you pour from, the more you will eat (about 20% to 30% more). This means if you pour a bowl of cereal from a gigango box, such as from Costco, you will eat more.
  5. Don’t keep sweet treats within arms reach. Secretaries who were given a candy bowl on their desk were 71% more likely to go for a chocolate than those whose bowl was off their desk. The reverse effect can be used here too. If you are trying to eat more healthy foods, keep them within arms reach!
  6. The more hassle it is to eat, the less we eat. Most of of us would never make our own french fries or ice cream. These two foods would take forever to make on our own, but they are so easy to grab on-the-go at places outside the home. Convienience foods make it really easy for us to eat more. I am not saying that all convienience foods are bad. If you keep healthy convience foods around, this rule will work in your favor.

Aren’t these little tidbits interesting? I can’t wait to read more! I will be sure to share the other things I learn.

What are your mindless eating traps? This may sound strange, but for me, coffee and/or tea can be a trap. It’s not the drink itself that’s bad, it’s what I usually have with it. I love to have something sweet and carb-y with a hot drink. I am not a milk drinker, but I know many people are the same way with milk. The same thing happens when I treat myself to a beer, except I usually like something crunchy and salty, such as pretzels.

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photo from Flickr creative commons

Lauren June 7, 2013 at 11:53 am

Loved this book – full of tips & interesting research! I just found your site & it’s great. I’m finishing up my internship and spent the last 5 weeks doing outpatient oncology counseling. It was definitely one of my favorite rotations because the patients were all so motivated & interested in learning about nutrition.

Natalie June 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Hi Lauren! Thanks for your comment. Congrats on finishing up your internship. Yes, you’re right, outpatient oncology is an area where you can make a big difference. Best of luck to you in your job search after internship.

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