Mindless eating is a bad habit, many of us easily fall into. It’s not only bad for your waistline, it is also bad for you peace of mind as well. Mindless eating is not just being unaware of how much you are eating, it is also making poor food choices.
Dr. Brian Wansink is the John Dyson Professor of Consumer Behavior at Cornell University, where he directs the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. he has written numerous books on mindless eating.
These forces of mindless eating are so powerful that Dr. Wansink has said, “The best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on.” Here are some tips that he has used with clients to create new eating habits, or to change their environments so they eat less without knowing it.
1 Smaller plates. This really, really works. Even if you know you’re using a smaller plate. In every experiment, even ones where participants know they are fooling themselves, people eat less when they use smaller plates. People eat more when you give them a bigger container. Period.
2 Divide every meal in half. Put half aside. Eat the first half guilt-free, then ask yourself how much you want the second half and why. There is no wrong answer, just a moment of aware reflection where there was only mindless eating before.
3 When you eat, just eat. Sit down at a table. Face way from any distractions. Turn off your phone. And think about eating a bite. This is hard and rarely sustainable, but it’ a great exercise if you want to see what “just eating” feels like.
4 When you have a snack, plate it. This makes snacking more inconvenient, which means you’ll do it less.
5 Put everything you want to eat on the plate. That way you see everything you want to eat before you eat it, and it’s harder to keep scooping the ice cream mindlessly out of the container and into your face.
6 Eliminate 20%. Dr. Wansink has discovered that people do not notice a sub-20% caloric deficit. We don’t feel hungry or deprived when they are eating 20% less food than we need, so this is the easiest and most sustainable way to lose weight. So just eliminate 20% of your calories (and only 20%, otherwise you’ll crash and rebound) right off the bat by plating your food, then putting 1/5 of it back.