Books, Eat, Featured, Live

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think – Brian Wansink

December 10, 2014
Woman with many food choices

Did you know that we make over 200 decisions daily concerning food?

I didn’t. And that was just one fact I learnt from Dr. Brian Wansink‘s book, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.  

 

Brian Wansink

Brian is a highly experienced academic, scientist and marketing researcher specialising in food and consumer behaviour. Brian’s smart, funny and active on Twitter. Check out Brian’s Twitter here.

He doesn’t advocate going on diets, eating only vegetables or abstaining from any type of food. Brian simply emphasises that we take a closer look at how and what we’re eating. Not that we all want to go on a diet or concentrate too much on what we’re eating. Brian believes, “The best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on.”

As we age, over the years we commonly become heavier and heavier and Brian shows us potential ways that this could have happened. There’s countless stories of people adopting relaxed eating habits then not noticing that they’re a few sizes larger.

Mindless Eating suggests easy ways we can adjust our eating habits to ensure we don’t jeopardise our health, while still enjoying the foods that we love.

 

Most of us don't overeat because we're hungry. We overeat because of family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers quote by Brian Wansink

There are so many external factors that influence our eating habits. It takes a lot of self control to stick to a healthy, natural diet.

 

Main Themes

Mindless Eating looks at:

  • how there are hidden environmental factors which can shape our eating habits,
  • how packaging and presentation of food affects how we eat,
  • how our mood effects on our habits,
  • comfort food patterns,
  • fast food convenience and marketing, and
  • useful tips for more mindful eating.

Apparently, it’s the details we need to take more notice of. When it comes to food – size matters. The size of our plates, the size of our servings, and the size of the packaging all have an effect on how we eat.

When we’re more mindful that we’re more likely to eat more if we eat straight from the packet or when we serve ourselves a full helping, we can make positive changes to ensure that we don’t mindlessly eat our way to gaining unnecessary weight.

If you’re looking to improve your eating habits, Brian suggests using the Power of Three where you make just three adjustments to your eating habits and tick them off a chart daily. These three habits could include either a) Policies such as, “I’ll start eating last and finish last” so as to maintain a slower eating pace or b) Trade Offs such as, “I can only have dessert if I’ve worked out today”.

These three  daily habits should have about a 100 calorie difference in your consumption which can equal to 30 pounds or 13 kgs by the end of the year.

 

The solution to mindless eating is not mindful eating, it is rearranging our environment -- our homes and kitchens -- so we mindlessly eat a little less than mindlessly eating more than we want. quote by Brian Wansink

Brian thinks we’re too busy for mindful eating so we need to adjust our external influences to ensure we make wholesome decisions.

 

Parents & Food

Mindless Eating highlighted that parents have huge effects on how their children’s eating habits will develop. If adults have an aversion to a certain type of food, they can easily pass on that dislike to their children with a simple facial expression. Children are so impressionable; Mindless Eating explains that even babies and toddlers take cues from the people who feed them about the taste of their food.

I loved one particular story from the book. One fabulous parent told her two young boys that eating broccoli was like eating dinosaur trees. This change in perception from thinking broccoli is just another vegetable to it being an amazing role playing tool, managed to spark a revolution in their day care where most of the children thought it was cool to eat broccoli. Now that is excellent parenting.

 

Kid who loves fruit and vegsA

Kids are strongly influenced by those around them. If parents like their fruit and vegetables, most likely, their kids will like them too.

 

Mindless or Mindful Choices

Mindless Eating is refreshingly full of useful information about our eating habits and how the food industry has progressed. It shows us ways we can take control of our consumption by being mindful of our choices one day at a time. Mindless Eating sparked an active website where you can find excerpts from the book and plenty of useful information.

This book is a fun and easy read if you’re wanting a little more insight to just some of those 200 food related decisions we make every day.

 

Reflections

  • Do you ever finish a meal and realise you didn’t taste any of it?
  • Do you really know why our favourite foods are your favourites?
  • How often do you eat straight from a packet?

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