to lose weight? Instead of changing yourself, you might
consider changing your environment.
changes — big and small — to the world around you is much
easier than mustering the willpower to refrain from eating
high-calorie foods, says Brian Wansink, who has for years
studied our eating habits, currently as director of the Food
and Brand Lab at Cornell University.
those changes can mean that your diet is more healthful
without working so hard.
dismisses the popular idea that mindful eating is the way to
eat what we need without overeating junk food. "For 90
percent of us, the solution to mindless eating is not mindful
eating — our lives are just too crazy and our willpower’s
too wimpy," he writes in his new book, "Slim by
Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life."
includes ways restaurants, schools and other institutions can
offer more healthful food, and provides scorecards for readers
to figure out whether their homes and workplaces, the
restaurants and supermarkets they patronize and their kids’
school meals, are designed for slim.
and food companies are likely to change if they can make more
money, Wansink noted in a telephone interview. "If a
bunch of consumers say, ‘Is there something you can come up
with that’s not French fries or a boring salad? I would eat
here more often,’" then companies are likely to listen,
in the profits business, not in business to make people fat,
he said. It’s a lesson Wansink and his students stumbled
upon when they realized that the bigger the package of food,
the more people ate of it, and that consumers would pay more
for smaller packets that would help them control how much they
Nabisco/Kraft gave my theory a run and launched the
100-calorie snack pack," Wansink writes. It’s the sort
of change that helps people eat less with no effort.
of our lives have made us fat by design," Wansink said.
So it’s time, he said, to make ourselves thin the same way.
Here are some of his findings and suggestions; pick those that
work for you, he says.
you come home through your kitchen door, you’ll weigh more
than your neighbor who goes home through another room.
Solution? Kind of obvious.
Wansink and his researchers spent a lot of time watching and
cataloging the behavior of people who ate at buffet
restaurants. The slim diners scouted out the entire spread
before taking any food and then cherry-picked their favorites.
Heavy diners went straight for the plates and started piling
on from the start of the line. And thin diners sat far from
the buffet facing away from it. You can guess what the others
your plate is the same color as your food, you’re likely to
serve yourself 18 percent more food. You can either buy new
dishes, or color-code your meals if you want to eat less. But
here’s a hint: White plates and lots of pasta, potatoes and
rice? Maybe not. Smaller plates are better, too.
Clear the counters! The average woman who had potato chips on
her counter weighed 8 pounds more than a neighbor who did not,
Wansink writes. Big deal, it’s chips, you say? Get this:
Woman with a box of breakfast cereal visible anywhere in the
kitchen weighed 21 pounds more than that neighbor who kept it
in the cupboard, Wansink writes.
you are really serious, move your pantry food to a closet
elsewhere in the house and that closet’s stuff into the
kitchen closet. Or put up shelves in a faraway room to hold
the food. That, Wansink writes, will decrease
"browsing" for snacks and make you think before the
food gets to your mouth.
Buying in bulk saves money, right? But Wansink writes that one
study showed people ate half the chips, cookies, ramen noodles
and the like in the first week — regardless of how much they
bought. What to do? Buy only healthful foods in bulk. Or
repackage the items once you get home and store some far from
the kitchen, he writes.
attention to the menu. On average, Wansink writes, a dish
described as "buttery" has 102 more calories than a
similar one not described that way. Crispy? Adds 131 calories,
lessen cravings while in the supermarket, chew gum, Wansink
says. When he and colleagues gave shoppers gum at the start of
a shopping trip, they bought 7 percent less junk food than
their empty-mouthed fellow shoppers.