Ice Cream for Scientists

In Diet and Weight, Mindless Eating on July 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm

technicolor ice cream on doctorfoodtruth

I keep coming back to the book Mindless Eating.  I am just enthralled with the psychological facts Dr. Brian Wansink has uncovered about eating.  This little book is chock-full of funny and eye-opening university studies about our food habits.  I highly recommend getting a copy!  If you’re interested, follow the link above to get in on Amazon.

In one study, Dr. Wansink invited a group of dietitians, nutritionists, and other food scientists to his facility for a celebration ice cream social immediately after lunch.  Since each of these people knows Dr. Wansink and knows how much he likes to analyze what and where and why and how much people eat, you’d think they would have known what was coming.  Apparently, they didn’t.

He arranged for each person to randomly get either a small or large serving bowl and either a small or large spoon to eat with.  As people gave their bowls back, he secretly weighed and photographed what was left, then asked each how much they ate. Since these people were all highly educated in food and nutrition, he made the questions a little tougher, asking them to estimate the number of calories they ate, the percent of the serving they ate, and so on.

So how did these smart, educated food people do when he put them on the spot?  Terrible, just like the rest of us!  What Dr. Wansink shows again and again is that when it comes to eating, we don’t waste a thought on it.  Professional food people and Joe or Jane off the street do about the same when eating while distracted.

His colleagues ate more and faster with the bigger spoons out of the bigger bowls, just as he predicted. Knowledge and good intentions can’t protect us from instinct, he says.  Once we master eating without missing our mouth, about age 2, we’re done thinking about eating forever.  Before we start eating and (maybe) after we’re done we can think about our food but while the meal is going?  Most of us don’t spare a thought for the calories.

So what to do?  Again, he offers simple, usable advice.  Decide before you sit down how much you want to eat.  Use smaller utensils and taller, thinner glasses and smaller plates to fool your brain.  Stop and think during the meal, even if the conversation is flowing.

I know that the calories count.  These are some hints we can all use to keep them from counting against us.

Change Your Food, Change Your Life!

  1. Thanks for the great advice…using smaller plates, glasses and utensils always seems silly, but it really does work. I’ve got that book around here some where, think I’ll dig it out and read it again!

    • Do dig it up! What a great little book and sometimes very funny too.
      We use the tall, thin glasses – my only complaint is that I can’t get my hand in them to wash well! Grrr! Otherwise I find the smaller plates work.
      Another study recently showed that using bigger utensil with smaller plate works even better. That’s my next self-experiment…

  2. […] Ice Cream for Scientists ( […]

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