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Mindless Eating Challenge: Week #2

Reading and putting into practice what I learned from Brian Wansink’s book Mindless Eating was a real turning point in my weight loss journey.

This was the tipping point that allowed me to achieve peace with the food I craved while maintaining the Weight Watchers goal weight I set in my late twenties.

Background to the 6 Week Mindless Eating Challenge

Now, seven years later, as I settle into the scene of this wholesome exploration (Land O’ Lakes, WI), I thought it would be fun to create a 6 week mindless eating challenge to help others experience what I have discovered.

While Weight Watchers friendly recipes are important, they’re only part of the equation. Learning to manage our environment and developing healthy habits are essential elements of sustainable weight loss.

Eating Without Thinking: Why We Eat More Than We Realize (affiliate link) helped me see that.

But just reading a book is not enough. You must practice what you learn. That’s what this challenge is all about.

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

For this challenge, we will all read Eating mindlessly and share our knowledge and experiences. Every week for six weeks, from July 10 to August 14, we will read two chapters a week and share what we learn.

I will kick off every Monday with an article, which will give participants a space to comment on their findings, if they wish.

Sounds like a perfect summer project: A virtual book club, but with homework 🙂

To be most effective, this challenge is best tackled in a low-key “let’s see what we find out” way. No pressure. No question of failing.

But it does provide a bit of accountability if you find it helpful in propelling you into the action.

To participate, just buy the book Eating Without Thinking: Why We Eat More Than We Realize (affiliate link)by Brian Wansink (or borrow it from your library).

Here is the basic program:

6-Week Mindless Eating Challenge Timeline

Week #2: My Notes and Thoughts on Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Realize Chapters 3 & 4

The essential : We all consume more from large packaging, regardless of the product. The greater the variety of foods, the more we eat. We are all on the “See Food” diet. The more food we see, the more we will eat. The more convenient/easier a food is to get, the more we will eat.

Weight loss strategies:

  • Minimize your boxes and dishes.
  • Repack giant boxes into smaller containers.
  • Reduce your plates, bowls and serving utensils.
  • Use tall, thin glasses if you want to drink less.
  • Eating with chopsticks in Chinese restaurants
  • Limit the variety of foods you allow yourself at each meal.
  • Make healthy foods easy to see and less healthy foods hard to see.
  • Leave serving dishes in the kitchen, not on the table where they are easy to reach.
  • Discomfort tempting foods. Put them in hard-to-reach cabinets. Hide mouth-watering leftovers under foil in the back of the refrigerator.
  • Snack only at the ball and on a clean plate.
  • Don’t keep impulse foods at home.

Notes from Chapter 3 of Mindless Eating: Why You Eat More Than You Think

Our huge American kitchens filled with huge packets of food are a danger to our waistlines because they force us to make bigger meals and eat more food.

People eat 20-25% more from large packs. With snacks, it’s even worse. People given 1 pound bags of M&Ms ate twice as much as those given ½ pound bags.

You can save money with larger sizes, but it will cost you excess weight.

The smaller the packet, the less you make and the less you eat.

The smaller the serving dish, the less you take and the less you eat.

Reduce your plates and bowls. Use an 8 or 9 inch plate.

Small plates make you lose weight

Image source: Food Psychology, Cornell University

To drink less, use tall, thin glasses. You will pour 30% more into a wide glass than into a tall glass.

At parties where there are a lot of food choices, never allow yourself to have more than two dishes on a plate at once. Come back if you’re still hungry, but the lack of variety will slow you down. (I needed to apply this at a recent 4th of July party where I got carried away by the dessert buffet and loaded a plate with several options which I, of course, devoured.)

Mindless Eating: Use Tall, Thin Glasses to Drink Less

Image source: Food Psychology, Cornell University

Mindless Eating Chapter 4 Notes: Why We Eat More Than We Think

Just seeing food can make us want to devour it.

Candy experiment: Secretaries with transparent candies ate 77 calories more per day than those with an opaque dish.

Just thinking about food can make us hungry. Much like Pavlov’s dogs, we salivate when we hear, see, or smell something we associate with food.

The more you think about a food before eating it, the more likely you are to eat it.

The more complicated a food is to eat, the less you eat of it. (The experiments on almonds, baguettes, cafeteria ice cream coolers all illustrate this.)

Here’s a video with Dr. Wansink explaining the power of clearing your meters for weight loss success:

Out of sight for weight loss success

Image source: Food Psychology, Cornell University

Questions to consider:

  1. What were your biggest takeaways from Chapters 3 and 4 of Mindless Eating?
  2. What strategies have you put in place? What have you discovered? (We now use salad plates instead of dinner plates and small one-cup bowls instead of the large bowls that come with our dish set.)
  3. Have you tried the optical illusions of drinking?
  4. Has the “See-Food” diet inspired you to make changes? If yes, which ones? (I now keep the fries in a bag in the pantry so I can’t see them when I open the door. I’ve also emptied all food, except a bowl of fruit, from the kitchen counters.)

I’ll be back next week with my notes for chapters 5 and 6.

Have a good week!


PS: If you want a little help eating better and losing weight this summer, my 28 Day Smart Start Weight Loss Challenge may be exactly what you are looking for! Many of the tips and suggestions are based on what I’ve learned applying Dr. Wansink’s Mindless Eating concepts.

It was a formidable challenge. Thanks for all the support and encouragement. I have definitely made some positive changes that I plan to continue! -Bronwyn

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