That fork in your hand—put it down, now! That bag of chips? Keep it in the back of your cupboard, or divide it into small baggies. These foods aren’t the only tempting culprits: we’re attacked from every side and angle. Within MINDLESS EATING, author Brian Wansink, through numerous examples, shows why we eat more than we think we do.
This book isn’t just talk: it is fascinating science. It is entertainment that enlightens. Page-after-page, I’m enraptured by—what I call a prank—a study on ways that people eat more. Wansink is sickly hilarious at times. Whether he is giving away two-week-old stale popcorn to movie goers, or filling up college kids’ soup bowls from beneath the table, it’s all great. That’s the best type of learning—fun learning!
There are a couple of chapters toward the back of the book that were wavering or a bit repetitive, but more often than not, there were new studies (tricks) that tested humankind’s fortitude and resistance to mindless munching. We’re susceptible to so much: an extra color in a bag of M&M’s; a trip to Costco; a larger plate. Little things add up to long-term calories.
Will reading this book cause you to lose weight? Maybe, but probably not. To eat more, without knowing that we eat more, is easy. You could say it is—mindless. Wansink shows how professional bartenders pour more alcohol if the glass is wider at the base; he shows how scholars in food research will eat more their dinner plates are cleared by the waitresses regularly. Intelligence and knowledge are helpful in combating idle eating, but by no means guaranteed shields.
Wansink also counteracts popular ideas found in books like SALT SUGAR FAT (review forthcoming), where food companies are villainized (perhaps, rightfully so) for making us crave their foods. Wansink counters that they are merely a business, looking to make money. If we take the same techniques, apply it to healthier foods, companies will follow the lead. Broccoli-flavored Oreos? Gross, but why not?
If you’re even slightly interested in learning about your food habits, this book is a must.
You can see a preview of this book and other reviews on Amazon, here: Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think