Make Healthier Choices a No-Brainer
Posted by Caitlin Norton
Overeating and obesity have been discussed ad nauseam in the US. Think about the last time you probably ate too much in one sitting. Was it that extra piece of chocolate cake at dinner last week? Or maybe the buffet you went to with your co-workers to celebrate an anniversary?
As nutritional scientist Brian Wansink talks about in his book Mindless Eating, Why We Eat More Than We Think, it’s likely that none of the times you can remember actually had a significant impact on your weight. It’s most likely the eating you can’t remember that’s having the biggest effect. Every rushed lunch in front of your computer at work or those times you eat fast food in the car between running errands and going to practice or when you’re watching your favorite TV show with the whole bag of chips on the coffee table in front of you and when the show is done you have no idea where the entire bag went.
According to Wansink, “the best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on.” As Director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, Wansink conducted 250 experiments demonstrating that people from all walks of life have no idea how much they are putting in their mouths or for what reason. Wansink believes that if we change our “mindless” eating habits we will eat less and healthier.
There is good news that habits are changing- just yesterday a study was published that suggests Americans are eating less calories and obesity rates have appeared to stop rising. The following tips can help you achieve that without sacrificing your favorite treats or activities.
Watch Your Words
Vocabulary as part of our eating regimen can be sneaky. Descriptive phrases like “ambrosial fruit salad”, “scrumptious brownies” and “rich sauces” tempt us to eat more. The actual act of consumption isn’t as strong as the anticipation.
Choose Your Plate Size Wisely
The shape and size of cups, plates and bowls can greatly impact how much you eat. Wansink reveals we are prompted by large bottles, deep dish bowls and big colorful containers. He suggests downsizing your plates and bowls to trick 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.
Don’t Race to Finish
Many of us grew up being told to finish our dinners. And while that is very economically practical it can set us up for overeating. Instead take smaller portions and wait 20 minutes to get seconds (you may find you’re full already). Or if you’re eating at a restaurant ask for a to-go box with the meal and divide that plate into two portions. Economical and waist-friendly!
Repack into Single Servings
One of Wansink’s best tips is for those of us who like to shop at places like Wal-Mart and Costco. His research showed that, “People who stock up at discount stores eat up to 48 percent more. If you buy in bulk, put pretzels and other snacks in portion-size Baggies. Never, never, ever eat out of the box.” Make sense?
If we make simple changes like these a regular part of our like we can cut 100-200 calories a day and drop a pound a month without trying. Pick three changes and trying them for one month, tracking them as you go. While we may not be able to change all of the ways we mindlessly eat immediately, we can change a few of them, and that’s enough to have a marked impact on our day to day lives.