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Mindless Eating Makes You Choose the Wrong Foods All the Time

Often, I write about the bad choices folks make, sometimes at the last minute, that lead to poornutritional choices. Cornell University researcher Dr. Brian Wansinkargues it's the mindless decisions patients make about food -- spurredby subtle environmental cues like huge portions -- that create a recipefor obesity.

The major misperception patients have about the food they eat: People make more than 200 decisions a day about the foods they eat or don't, a far cry from the 15 on average most assume.

A good example of the distractions that lead to poor eating choices-- buttery movie popcorn -- is among the most common. As the studygoes, a group of moviegoers were given stale popcorn either in mediumand large tubs that were later measured for weight after the filmended. Moviegoers with larger buckets ate more popcorn, thanks, inpart, to the distracting actions of a big screen movie and the sound ofothers eating popcorn.

Or consider the "bottomless" soup bowl Dr. Wansink and his studentsrigged to keep it at least half-full of tomato soup at all times thatfooled patients into believing they ate less food than they really did.

Some simple visual tricks Dr. Wansink recommends that may make asubtle difference on the scales and keep those extra pounds away:

  • Don't eat food directly from a package.
  • If you are at a buffet, put only two food items on your plate at a time.
  • When you're with a group at a restaurant, try to sit near the person you believe is the slowest eater and be the last one who starts eating at the table.

Although Dr. Wansink admits his research doesn't provide a cure forthe obesity epidemic -- that's where eating the right foods based onyour body's unique nutritional typecomes into play -- it's a good way to make patients more aware aboutthe mindless things they do to sabotage their own health every day.

New York Times October 11, 2006 Registration Required

Spartanburg Herald-Journal October 11, 2006

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