Mindless Eating

by / Monday, 13 April 2015 / Published in Nutrition
A review of “Mindless Eating” by Brian Wansink PH.D.
Eating healthy is hard.  One day, “trans fats” are the worst thing you can eat.  The next day, “sugar is evil” and The next , “too much sodium is bad for you.”  It’s tough.  Our ADHD society has spread into the food and dieting industry.  But the toughest part about eating healthy is we do so many things subconsciously.  A better way to put it: we are “mindless eaters.”
“Mindless Eating” is a must read for anyone who wants to learn more about how and why we eat certain foods. Most of the time, how much we eat depends not on how hungry we are or what food is being served, but on other external cues.  Most people are aware of a pretty basic external cue: plate size.  The bigger the plate, the more likely we are to eat more.  But there are so many other interesting experiments on food discussed in “Mindless Eating.”
If food is marked “low fat,” people are likely to eat much more of it, negating any healthy effect.  This is why “healthy” fast food chains like Subway may not be so healthy.
If food is nearby, even if the food is terrible, people are more likely to eat it.  An experiment was done giving moviegoers a bucket of stale popcorn.  Moviegoers frequently ate most of the popcorn, even though it tasted awful.
If you leave a trace of what you have eaten (chicken bones, peanut shells, etc), you are less likely to overeat.
There are many more experiments discussed that will change your thinking about what you eat and how much you eat.
My personal story: I love Garden Salsa sun chips.  They’re the best chips.  Period.  There is no debate.  You’re either with me or completely wrong.  But, like many people, I would grab the bag of chips and just eat out of the bag.  Often, within a day of buying the chips, the bag would be empty.  Then I read “Mindless Eating,” and decided to conduct a little “experiment.”  I put a handful of chips on a plate and then put the chips away.  I would eat the chips and wasn’t hungry.  By having chips on a plate, I was able to gauge how many chips I was eating, ensuring I did not overeat.
You don’t have to be a nutritionist to eat healthy.  You don’t even have to be someone that puts a lot of time and effort into what they eat.  I’m incredibly lazy when it comes to preparing meals.  But by recognizing what I eat is based on many other factors that I can control, I am able to have a diet that ensures I never overeat.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some Sun Chips to eat.  I just can’t forget the plate.

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