Kirsti's Reviews > Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink
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's review
Feb 09, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: food, nonfiction, science
Read in February, 2009

"The best diet is the one you don't know you're on."

Wansink is a Ph.D. who has run food labs at different universities and independently. His book is a friendly, rather chatty account of his findings, which include:

* Your stomach can't count. It doesn't know how many spoonfuls of soup (or whatever) you had, so it will encourage you to keep eating until the plate is clean, the bag or box is empty, or the TV show is over. That's evolution, baby.

* It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach let your brain know that you are full. (OK, I knew that one already.)

* Here's where it gets interesting: If you cut calorie intake drastically, your body will reduce your metabolism, and you will feel hungry most of the time. If you cut calorie intake by 100-300 calories per day, your body will not notice the difference . . . but you may be able to lose 30 pounds in a year. Even if you don't, you'll at least stop gaining. It is possible to do this calorie cutting through exercise, but through diet is easier for most people.

Some ways to cut those 100-300 daily calories:

- Eat slowly. People eat faster/more if others around them eat faster/more. Try to find the slowest eater at the table and pace yourself with him/her.

- Put down your fork after every bite.

- When you are eating, just eat. No reading, no TV watching, no computer using. It's OK to talk or listen to music if you are with others, but try to make it slow-tempo music or you'll all eat faster.

- Be aware that you will eat more when dining with others, mostly because you will be at the table for a longer time. If you are dining with several others, you will likely eat a lot more.

- Don't serve food family style (in serving dishes on the table) unless it's vegetables.

- Use smaller plates and tall, skinny glasses. Your brain doesn't know the difference.

- Eat fruit for dessert.

- If you're going to have a high-calorie dessert, try to split it with others. The best part of dessert is the first two bites.

- If you must eat in front of the TV, decide in advance how much you want and put that in a plate or bowl. No eating out of a multiple-serving bag or box.

- If you bulk-buy snacks, repackage them into smaller containers or bags.

- Nutritious foods go where you can see them: on the counter or on a front shelf in a clear container. Non-nutritious foods, if you must buy them, go on the backs of the shelves in opaque containers.

Here are the tips that I thought were too extreme for me:

• Eat in only one room of your house--the kitchen or dining room.

• Don't set foot in the kitchen unless it's mealtime. If you have to, enter the house a different way so you don't snack immediately after work.

• Before you eat something that is bad for you, say out loud, "I'm not actually hungry, but I'm going to eat this anyway."

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