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Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think
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Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

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In this illuminating and groundbreaking new book, food psychologist Brian Wansink shows why you may not realize how much you’re eating, what you’re eating–or why you’re even eating at all.

• Does food with a brand name really taste better?
• Do you hate brussels sprouts because your mother did?
• Does the size of your plate determine how hungry you feel?
• How much would you eat if your soup bowl secretly refilled itself?
• What does your favorite comfort food really say about you?
• Why do you overeat so much at healthy restaurants?

Brian Wansink is a Stanford Ph.D. and the director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. He’s spent a lifetime studying what we don’t notice: the hidden cues that determine how much and why people eat. Using ingenious, fun, and sometimes downright fiendishly clever experiments like the “bottomless soup bowl,” Wansink takes us on a fascinating tour of the secret dynamics behind our dietary habits. How does packaging influence how much we eat? Which movies make us eat faster? How does music or the color of the room influence how much we eat? How can we recognize the “hidden persuaders” used by restaurants and supermarkets to get us to mindlessly eat? What are the real reasons most diets are doomed to fail? And how can we use the “mindless margin” to lose–instead of gain–ten to twenty pounds in the coming year?

Mindless Eating will change the way you look at food, and it will give you the facts you need to easily make smarter, healthier, more mindful and enjoyable choices at the dinner table, in the supermarket, in restaurants, at the office–even at a vending machine–wherever you decide to satisfy your appetite.


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details:
Author: Brian Wansink
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: August 28, 2007
Language: English
ISBN: 0553384481
Product Length: 8.2 inches
Product Width: 6.06 inches
Product Height: 0.66 inches
Product Weight: 0.57 pounds
Package Length: 8.2 inches
Package Width: 5.5 inches
Package Height: 0.7 inches
Package Weight: 0.49 pounds
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Customer Reviews:
Average Customer Review:4.5 ( 332 customer reviews )
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159 of 168 found the following review helpful:

5Lose Weight Without a Diet Using Simple and Practical Advice!  Oct 20, 2006
By D. Buxman "A Seeker of Truth"
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.

98 of 103 found the following review helpful:

5The Best Non-Diet Book  Sep 12, 2007
By Kristen Willard
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.

57 of 58 found the following review helpful:

5Sensible advice that worked for me  May 10, 2007
By Rebecca Menes "Gentle Reader"
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.

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."

80 of 86 found the following review helpful:

5Finally, a Sane Look at "Dieting"  Oct 14, 2007
By M. JEFFREY MCMAHON "herculodge"
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.

121 of 135 found the following review helpful:

3Already heard a lot of this  Nov 28, 2006
By jeffsdate "jeffsdate"
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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