Why We Eat More Than We ThinkBook - 2006
• Does food with a brand name really taste better?
• Do you hate brussels sprouts because your mother did?
• Does the size of your plate determine how hungry you feel?
• How much would you eat if your soup bowl secretly refilled itself?
• What does your favorite comfort food really say about you?
• Why do you overeat so much at healthy restaurants?
Brian Wansink is a Stanford Ph.D. and the director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. He's spent a lifetime studying what we don't notice: the hidden cues that determine how much and why people eat. Using ingenious, fun, and sometimes downright fiendishly clever experiments like the "bottomless soup bowl," Wansink takes us on a fascinating tour of the secret dynamics behind our dietary habits. How does packaging influence how much we eat? Which movies make us eat faster? How does music or the color of the room influence how much we eat? How can we recognize the "hidden persuaders" used by restaurants and supermarkets to get us to mindlessly eat? What are the real reasons most diets are doomed to fail? And how can we use the "mindless margin" to lose--instead of gain--ten to twenty pounds in the coming year?
Mindless Eating will change the way you look at food, and it will give you the facts you need to easily make smarter, healthier, more mindful and enjoyable choices at the dinner table, in the supermarket, in restaurants, at the office--even at a vending machine--wherever you decide to satisfy your appetite.
From the critics
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We all think we're too smart to be tricked by packages, lighting, or plates. We might acknowledge that others could be tricked, but not us. That is what makes mindless eating so dangerous. We are almost never aware that it is happening to us.
Our body's metabolism is efficient. When it has plenty of food to burn, it turns up the furnace and burns our fat reserves faster. When it has less food to burn, it turns down the furnace and burns it more slowly and efficiently. This efficiency helped our ancestors survive famines and barren winters. But it doesn't help today's deprived dieter. If you eat too little, the body goes into conservation mode and makes it even tougher to burn off the pounds.
We have millions of years of evolution and instinct telling us to eat as often as we can and to eat as much as we can. Most of us simply do not have the mental fortitude to stare at a plate of warm cookies on the table and say, "I'm not going to eat a cookie, I'm not going to eat a cookie," and then not eat the cookie.
In the hundreds of studies we've done on food, it became increasingly clear that the stomach only has three main settings:
2) I'm Full but I Can Eat More
3) I'm Stuffed
Eat before you shop, use a list, and stick to the perimeter of the store. That's where the fresh foods hang out.
We are hardwired to love the taste of fat, salt, and sugar. Fatty foods gave our ancestors the calorie reserves to weather food shortages. Salt helped them retain water and avoid dehydration. Sugar helped them distinguish sweet edible berries from the sour poisonous ones. Through our taste for fat, salt, and sugar, we learned to prefer the foods that were most likely to keep us alive.
It's hard not to feel the frustration of friends and family when their love of life is weighed down by having to estimate the calories in the the salad dressing they have "on the side," or in the baloney-thin slice of birthday cake they carefully cut. With more than 200 daily decisions to make about food, this much microthinking can joylessly grind a person down.
We can turn the food in our life from being a temptation or a regret to something we guiltlessly enjoy. We can move from mindless overeating to mindless better eating.
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