Mindless Eating is a book that had been sitting on my to read list for quite a while so when I saw it on a friend’s bookshelf I took the opportunity to borrow and read it. It’s definitely worth reading! Quite an eye opener into how easily our body is tricked into overeating – without even realising it. It shows you how to remove the cues that cause you to overeat and ways in which how to re-engineer your kitchen and your eating habits to be more mindful of what goes into our mouths and have a healthier eating relationship.
“Food is a great pleasure in our life – not something we should compromise. We simply need to shift our surroundings to work with our lifestyle instead of against it“
~ Brian Wansink.
This post is an inconclusive summary of the main things I learned by reading the book. For more tips and examples I thoroughly recommend getting your hands on a copy and checking it out for yourself.
EVERYONE eats more if given a larger portion ~ but think they won’t be affected by a larger size. Wansink conducted studies in movie theatres where they gave free popcorn to movie-goers in either Medium or large-tubs. The trick was that it so stale (5 days old to be exact) it squeaked upon eating!! Despite this, those with the big popcorn buckets ate 53% more! Countless other studies have shown similar results with larger portion sizes – irrespective of how hungry someone is (or isn’t).
No one is immune to environmental cues ~ Regardless of their eating habits, size, shape or cultural background, everyone thinks (wrongly) that they are immune to the power of our environment. This includes who we are eating with, packaging, plates, food descriptions, colour, smells, distractions…..
Our memory is imperfect and unable to remember everything we eat ~ When asked to estimate how much food they consumed, people of normal weight tend to think they ate 20% less than did while those who are obese tend to underestimate by 30-40%. Interestingly, the more that is food eaten in one sitting, the greater the underestimation – regardless of size.
The shape and size of cups, plates and bowls makes a difference ~ Become an illusionist and avoid portion distortion by downsizing your plates and bowls – tricking your body into thinking it has eaten a bigger serving. Get rid of wide glasses and choose tall thin ones – you’ll end up pouring and drinking less. Dinner plates used by our grandparent’s were the size of our current salad plates!
Utilise the mindless margin to lose weight without enormous compromise ~ Most people gain weight so gradually they don’t recognise or know how it happened. The Mindless margin is the 100 calorie (420kJ) zone where we can either slightly overeat or undereat without noticing it or end up feeling deprived. Just 3 jelly beans a day more than your energy requirements can result in 0.5kg (1lb) weight gain over a one year period. We are very unlikely to notice such small changes in intake, however they can add up over time to either gain or lose weight.
For more tips on ways to stop mindless eating, make overeating a hassle not a habit, avoid the four unhealthy food extremes, making food trade-offs or the power of 3 do-able changes that are easy to make without much sacrifice you’ll have to read the book!
Have you read Mindless Eating before?