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Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think Paperback – August 28, 2007
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
There's nothing terribly new, although I think this guy was probably the originator of a lot of the progression towards self-help and changing your life books. His stories are quite interesting, but I think it's still not quite so clear how you would go about putting his ideas into practice.
Wansink suggests that we make small changes into our lives, a 100-200 calorie reduction from our diet so that we gradually lose weight without even knowing it. The problem with that is that often 100-200 calories will pop up to take place of the eliminated calorie threat. It's like the Lernaean Hydra--cut off one head and more temptations come in.
I would recommend this book as good general reading, but don't expect it to change your life.
Due to my health, I'm not able to do any real meaningful exercise that can contribute towards any significant calories-burned. So, after doing a little research, I discovered that a PORTION-CONTROL-ONLY type diet would probably work best. After committing to such a diet (June 2015), I found MINDLESS EATING on Amazon. Although not technically a "dieting" book, but more like a book on the science behind food marketing and WHY we eat, it was exactly what I needed. I picked it up about six weeks after my diet had started. Since that time, I have steadily lost 3.5 to 4 pounds a month. That's a slow loss, but it's a healthy loss.
As of this review (Feb. 1, 2016), I have lost 27 lbs. in the last 7 months, and I'm well on my way to hitting the perfect weight range for my age, height and physical-makeup. I credit MINDLESS EATING for giving me the mental boost and an assurance that dieting WITHOUT EXERCISE, and dieting WITHOUT GIVING UP THE FOODS YOU LOVE, is really possible – I'm living proof.
If you're new to dieting, have decent weight genetics, are in a position to where you're not able to exercise, and want an easy, fun-filled, no-nonsense, common sense read, then I believe that MINDLESS EATING is for you. Thank you, Mr. Wansink, for writing this book!
UPDATE: My diet which used MINDLESS EATING as a guide to losing weight officially ended around May 1, 2016. I now weigh 143 lbs., with a total 11-month loss of 40 lbs. That's right, I lost a total of 40 POUNDS IN 11 MONTHS with NO EXERCISE and NO EATING OF FOODS I DIDN'T WANT TO EAT. Imagine losing 40 pounds in less than a year, eating only the foods you love. One short year from now you can be looking back at yourself and thinking – that didn't take so long.
I am now maintaining my weight with the lessons I've learned (many from this book), and plan on using these lesson as way to always maintain the ideal weight for my particular body height and makeup. If I can do it, anyone can do it.
5-STARS Highly Recommended!
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.
P.S. I would think that the opposite of the advice in the book would also work if you were trying to gain weight -- buy big plates, eat many small snacks, and so forth.
Update: I wrote this original post in May of 2007. It is now August of 2007. I have lost another 10 pound, which means I have now lost the full 45 pounds of "baby fat" I gained during my pregnancy. I have gone from an "obese" BMI to the high end of "normal" BMI. Now it will be interesting to see if I keep losing weight (I would like to lose another ten pounds.) But even if I never lose another ounce, I am happy, proud, and grateful to Brian Wansink for writing "Mindless Eating."