One of my favorite bloggers, from Black Girls Guide to Weight Loss, recommended the book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink Ph.D.  Overall I would give it a 3 out of 5 stars.  It was tough to give it a rating, because some info was so good, and some info was so pointless and now even outdated (It was published in 2007.)  It should have been a great long magazine article, not a whole book.  The premise of the book is about all of the subtle psychological cues that cause us to eat more than we realize.

I’ve studied much about sugar and it’s physical effects, but it was interesting to see how subtle psychological food cues (packaging, portion size, social situations) influence not just overweight people, but anyone to eat more.  The author has many published studies and has performed lots of social experiments at Universities, so I was comfortable with his evaluations on many topics.

My favorite take away was near the beginning of the book.  He said that the average person makes 200 decisions about food everyday, many before breakfast. (What will I eat today? Poptarts? Yogurt? Will I eat at all? Should I sprinkle sugar over the cereal? etc.) Some people say oh, fat people should just quit being lazy and eat less.  But it was interesting to see it put into numbers.  Making 200 healthy food decisions everyday is tough work, especially if it’s an area you typically struggle with.

Here were my other favorite Golden Nugget pieces of advice:

  •  Use a smaller dinner plate.  Of course this is old news, but have you actually done it?   I just got some new plates and I’m putting away my large size dinner plates.  (This worked! Yesterday I thought, geez this is a “plate full” of potatoes.
  • Move Visible food or Go around it.  – This is similar to my new thing where I leave my cash/debit card at home to avoid the drive thru when I’m leaving from the gym.  (Twice this week I would’ve just grabbed something after my training session instead of going home and eating something healthy)
  • Make Unhealthy food inconvenient.  (I rarely have chips, candy, or high fructose corn syrupy drinks in my house. But I never thought, if I do have them, stick it in the back of the fridge/pantry. That way the ice cream doesn’t greet you every time you open the freezer)
  • And the opposite “See-food Diet” – We see it and we eat it.  (Insert candy dish at work here) So, I ordered a fruit bowl off Amazon.  I’ve never had one before.  Seeing the fruit on the counter will make it more likely for me to choose fruit for a snack)
  • Know what kind of hunger it is.  True physical hunger comes on gradually and below the neck in your stomach.  Emotional hunger comes on quickly and above the neck (eg. I really need some ice cream right now)
  • Say out LOUD, “I’m not hungry, but I’m going to eat it anyway,” during emotional eating cravings. If it doesn’t stop you, it should at least deter how much you want.  (Tried it yesterday, and it worked too!)

He said if you make these and other “mindless” changes without feeling like you’ve completely deprived yourself, you will stick with it, you will cut out 100-200 calories a day and up to 30 pounds a year.

I would have preferred a “cliff notes” version.  But it was well worth the read for the simple yet helpful “mindless” trade offs I’ve already incorporated. Are there any tips or tricks that you use to avoid mindless eating?

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