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Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think Hardcover – October 17, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 454 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

According to Wansink, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, the mind makes food-related decisions, more than 200 a day, and many of them without pause for actual thought. This peppy, somewhat pop-psych book argues that we don't have to change what we eat as much as how, and that by making more mindful food-related decisions we can start to eat and live better. The author's approach isn't so much a diet book as a how-to on better facilitating the interaction between the feed-me messages of our stomachs and the controls in our heads. In their particulars, the research summaries are entertaining, like an experiment that measured how people ate when their plates were literally "bottomless," but the cumulative message and even the approach feels familiar and not especially fresh. Wansink examines popular diets like the South Beach and Atkins regimes, and offers a number of his own strategies to help focus on what you eat: at a dinner party, "try to be the last person to start eating." Whether readers take time to weigh their decisions and their fruits and vegetables remains to be seen. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Anyone who's tried to follow a strict eating regimen knows how futile it sometimes seems. Nutritional science and marketing professor Wansink explores some of the psychological aspects of overeating to explain why we in fact consume more than we believe we do. He advocates weight-loss diets that cut calories by cutting overall consumption, instead of draconian elimination of intake. Wansink finds the greatest value in retraining one's mind and its perceptions by devices such as making sure one's plate contains at least half vegetables or salad. He suggests that a dieter will automatically eat less in social situations by being the last to start eating and the first to finish. He assesses the dangers of food shopping in bulk-portion stores, where customers are virtually begged to overconsume. Wansink's dual approach emphasizing food knowledge and self-knowledge offers a sensible route to permanent weight loss. A useful appendix arranges different popular diets in tables along with their advantages and disadvantages. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; 1 edition (October 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553804340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553804348
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (454 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Although I'm a born and raised Midwesterner, I've spent much of my life on both coasts and as a Professor in 3 Ivy League schools. I enjoy goofing around with my 3 silly daughters, playing bad tenor sax in a rock band, and performing semi-bad stand-up comedy.

But as a convicted behavioral scientist, I am obsessed with helping empower people to slim down, eat better, and to do the same for their entire family. I create simple tools to help people eat better effortlessly at home, at work, when eating out, and at the grocery store. My approach is a painless, scalable, meet-people-where-they-are way to lose weight without using the word "can't." I love French food and French fries, and I love Cabernet and Diet Coke. We just need to help our favorite foods fit better -- and mindlessly -- in our lives.

My earlier best seller, Mindless Eating, changed the way dieters ate. Slim by Design is the next step. Based on 25 years of our research, it gives easy tools each of us can use to lose weight. Better yet, the same ideas can help our families lose weight, and can even help our communities. Slim by Design is my most important work, and I hope it can inspire and empower you to improve your health and your life.


Now here's the formal version of my bio I was supposed to post.

"Brian Wansink is a behavioral economist and food psychologist, perhaps the foremost expert in changing what and how much people eat. He helped introduce the 100-calorie pack and he launched the Smarter Lunchroom Movement. He published his ideas in the groundbreaking book Mindless Eating. In it, he shows people how to eat less and eat better without conscious thought.

He has now launched the Slim by Design Movement to help us eat better. The movement connects us to our companies, restaurants, grocery stores, and schools to help.

Wansink is Director of the famed Cornell Food and Brand Lab and is the former White House-appointed Director in charge of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. He has a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is also a former amateur stand-up comic and he plays saxophone in a rock band and a jazz quartet. He has three young daughters and lives in Ithaca, New York.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Last November, 16 months after my son was born I was still carrying an extra 45 pounds. I bought this book just after Thanksgiving, read it, and took the author's advice to just try three of his suggestions.

Five months later I have lost 35 pounds. And I am still losing.

The author's point is that we don't monitor every calorie. We can't. Instead we work with cues to decide what to eat, and when to stop. Understand the cues, and you can change them to lower your daily calories.

I enjoyed the tales of diet research, but I think what worked for me was the practical suggestions -- instead of trying to rein in my "emotional eating," I just bought smaller plates and started covering half of the plate with veggies. Sounds dumb, but now I serve dinner off of the salad plates, and I eat less without thinking about it.

I especially like the insight that cutting 10 calories a day for a year equals one pound. I used to think of 50 calories here and 100 calories there as not really important, but now I realize they were adding up. I apply this insight to seconds and desserts and snacks. I pick up a 50 calorie cookie and I ask myself -- is this cookie, right now, worth 5 lbs in weight? Occasionally the answer is yes -- and I enjoy my cookie. But more often I realize I'm not really hungry, I'm just eating the cookie because it is there.

I think I was unusually ready to lose some serious weight. And my weight loss has definitely slowed in the last month. I've only lost about three pounds, instead of the 5-7 I had been averaging. But overall I have never had such good, quick results from a weight loss regimen. I can't recommend "Mindless Eating" highly enough.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Wansink is a food psychologist who specializes in the investigation of the mental and emotional factors that cause us to eat. This book demonstrates that we can lose weight, simply by being more mindful of our eating habits. It contains interesting and humorous case studies that highlight those mindless activities that add 200 or 300 calories to our diet each day and which can add up to 20 or 30 excess pounds in the course of a year.

The author provides practical suggestions at the end of each chapter that will help you to make the simple changes that will allow you to lose 2 or 3 pounds per month without resorting to conventional diet techniques that are doomed to failure. Although this book is based upon scientific research and extensively end-noted, it is enjoyable to read, easy to understand and quite funny at times.

This book is a great value for the money and the five or six hours that it will take to read it.
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Format: Paperback
At the beginning, I wasn't very surprised with the ideas in this book. Everyone knows a smaller plate means you eat less. But it is so much more than that. It had the feel of Freakonomics and The Tipping Point with innumerable studies to explain our relationship with food. After reading Mindless Eating I understand why Doritos just introduced "two-flavor" bags of chips. My high school children really enjoyed listening to the studies and we've been applying them in the kitchen. It turned out to be the best non-diet (but lose weight) book I've read.
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Format: Hardcover
This book has gotten a lot of hype and has been excerpted in a number of publications, which I had read before I got the book from the library. In fact, a lot of what is new and useful in the book was in the magazine excerpts; the rest of the stuff is conventional diet wisdom that any longtime dieter has heard before. For example: use smaller plates; eat slowly; don't bring the food container to the table; pay attention to what you're eating and don't read, watch TV, drive or do anything else at the same time; if you buy in bulk, divide the package into smaller mini- packages; keep sinful foods out of sight (like, no candy jar on your desk); stop when you're full and don't feel compelled to finish everything. All good advice, but not worth the price of the book. Rent, don't buy!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brian Wanskik, who conducts eating research in a strange experimental restaurant lab, uses his findings well in this fun-to-read book about the subtle sensory cues that encourage us to eat more than we should. Using common sense and science, he debunks all fad diets as creating more harm than good and then proceeds to show that biologically speaking our optimum weight-loss rate should be no more than a half a pound a week so we don't short-circuit our metabolism. Throughout the book, he peppers his chapters with "Reengineering Strategies." If we follow these easy-to-follow strategies, we will cut our calories between 100-200 a day, an amount that Wansik argues it the best for losing weight while keeping our metabolism active. He also devotes time to "Diet Danger Zones," so that we can see the warning signs of destructive eating habits and bad eating environments. While he does debunk most diet books, he makes an exception with The Volumetrics Eating Plan by Dr. Barbara Rolls.
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Format: Hardcover
Are you ready to go on a diet that you don't even know you are on? Do you wanna know the secret to cutting down on the amount of calories you consume without even thinking about it? Have the diets you've tried felt too difficult to stay on with all their rules and counting? If so, then I've got some good news to share with you.

What if I told you the reason why you are fat had nothing to do with calories, carbs, or fat grams, but rather on the power of the human brain to persuade or dissuade you from eating even when you may not be hungry. Would you be interested in hearing more? Sure you would and that's exactly why Dr. Brian Wansink wrote the book "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think."

As the Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, Dr. Wansink regularly conducts studies looking at human beings when they eat. While that sounds like a job about as exciting as watching paint dry on the wall, in actuality it is really quite fascinating work. You may think your understanding of how much you eat and why you do it are cut and dry, but Dr. Wansink causes you to give your dining habits a second look.

Through his variety of experiments, Dr. Wansink has uncovered some amazing behavioral traits regarding food that are absolutely astonishing:

- Did you know that removing the evidence of the actual amount of food you have eaten, such as the shells from nuts, chicken bones, or candy wrappers, subliminally tells your brain that you have eaten about one-third less than you have?

- Did you know that fancy-schmancy sounding menu item at your local upscale restaurant served on really nice dishes fools you into overindulging on it when you would likely eat less of that same piece of food at home?
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