Three times a day, everyday, we fuel our bodies with food to give us the energy we need to function throughout the day. With years of practice we should all be experts in how much food is the right amount, right? Wrong. It turns out that our eating environment has a powerful influence on how much we eat, and can lead to mindless overeating. In this month’s newsletter, we want to share the findings of eating experiments from the book, Mindless Eating- Why We Eat More Than We Think, by Brian Wansink. See if you can related to any of the situations below, and learn what environmental strategies work to bring back mindfulness when eating.
1. The bigger the bowl, the more you will eat.
Moviegoers who had eaten dinner were given stale (bad tasting) popcorn. So even though they weren’t hungry, 34% ate more from the bigger bucket. What to do: Studies have found that using smaller plates does in fact work to reduce the amount you eat.
2. If it’s in front of you, you are more likely to eat it.
Secretaries who had candies in a bowl on their desk ate more than twice as many candies as those who had the bowl six feet away. They also ate more if the candies were in a clear bowl vs. opaque bowl. What to do: Keep sweets out of sight.
3. You can’t rely on purely “knowing” when you are full.
This one is a shocker. People were unknowingly given soup bowls that automatically refilled as they ate, so they couldn’t see how much they were eating. The results? They ate 73% more soup than the control group. When asked if they were full, they said, ”How can I be full? I have a half a bowl of soup left.” What to do: A good rule of thumb is to eat until you are not hungry vs. “full”.
4. Exercise can make you overeat.
Participants were split up into two groups and both went on an identical walk around a lake before dinner. The groups were told that they were going on an exercise walk or a scenic walk. The leaders of the exercise walk group would say things like “We’re half way through, keep your heart rate up” while the scenic group heard things like “Look there’s an island and there’s three kinds of birds that live there”. The exercise walk group ended up eating more calories at dinner, mostly from desserts, than the scenic walk group because they estimated that they burned more calories.
5. Be aware of the health halo.
It was found that people who eat at “healthy” restaurants underestimated the calories they were consuming and were more likely to order potato chips, soda, or cookies along with their meals.
6. You are the company you keep.
When someone was paired with someone eating faster, they ended up eating significantly more than if they ate alone. In another study where participants were given a free buffet lunch, if a woman was following another woman, the woman behind took, on average, a portion that mimicked the serving taken by the woman in front.
As always, it is our goal to help you become more aware of how external and internal factors affect your health. With awareness come change. If you’d like more information on our services or would like to set up a nutrition & lifestyle coaching session contact us today
To your health,
Dorothy & Lori
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