Lesson in Mindfulness

When we eat we’re hungry, right? And we stop eating when we’re full, right? We probably wouldn’t be asking such rhetorical questions if the answers were true. But just how untrue the answers are might surprise you…

Food psychologist Brian Wansink, Ph.D, introduces his book, “Mindless Eating – Why We Eat More Than We Think,” with the statement that “Everyone eats how much we eat largely because of what’s around us.” 

Wansink’s research shows that the average person makes well over 200 decisions about food every day, but we’re not aware of what outside influences impact what we choose and how much we eat. On a daily basis we’re confronted with a myriad of things that can cause us to reach out and eat mindlessly.
Wansink tested a group of movie patrons at a matinee. Each received a free soft drink and a medium or large bucket of popcorn. The popcorn, prepared days earlier, was stale.Image
Each bucket was weighed after the movie. Even given that the popcorn was stale, the big-bucket group ate an average of 53% more than those with medium-size buckets. When the volunteers were asked if they ate more because of the bucket size, responses included: “Things like that don’t trick me,” and “I’m good at knowing when I’m full.” The cues that encouraged the eating in this case weren’t hunger-related, but rather what we all expect when we go to the movies— snacks. 

So how do we counteract the bad influences and gain control over our diets and our health? Awareness is key.

Making small adjustments to your eating environment  will help. It takes about 28 days to break an old habit and replace it with a good one.

Some “mindful” suggestions include:
• Making three 100 to 200 calorie changes in daily food intake that can be “mindlessly” made without much sacrifice.
• Focusing on changing the small behaviors that move us from “mindless overeating” to “mindless better eating.” Be aware of our danger zones, such as parties, snacks, restaurants and maybe sitting too long at a desk or in the car.
• Keeping a checklist to log the changes we accomplish every day as we build good habits. 
Brian Wansink is a professor of Marketing and Applied Economics at Cornell, and director of the school’s Food and Brand Lab.

About leisatwatkins

In May 2011, I hit an all time low in my life and an all time high in my weight. I was 199 pounds and the idea of hitting 200 scared me. I had tried every known diet, HCG, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Atkins, the grapefruit diet. I'd even tried Phen-phen when I was younger and Dexatrim before that. While I'd lose a little weight, I would always gain it back and then more. I knew the yo-yo dieting was not healthy for my body and it was definitely wreaking havoc on my mental wellness. I didn't know what to do and I was looking into taking drastic surgical measures to lose weight. That's when a friend of mine told me his story about losing over 200 pounds without pills, surgery, or starving himself. Not only did he lose the weight, but he kept it off. What did I have to lose? I asked him to share the secret with me. Now, only six short months later, I weigh 140 lbs and am working on losing 5 more. That will put me back to my weight that I was in HS, college, and before I had children. And I've done it with my friend's help as my Health Coach, without starving or even exercising, although I love to walk everyday. I haven't felt hungry at all in this process. How many "diets" can say that? I feel fantastic! I've felt great since the first week on this program. Let me be very clear about this. This is NOT a diet. This is not something you do for a little while, lose the weight, then go back to your old eating habits. This program is a life changing plan to help you eat healthier, make food choices that are tailored to your body, and bring you to a state of optimal physical health. If like me, you are tired of diets that don't work, then let me show you a life style plan that does.

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