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Appetite for Knowledge

Mindless Eating – Part 2

Now, on to the rest of Brian Wansink’s questions from his MINDLESS EATING:  WHY WE EAT MORE THAN WE THINK book.  Let’s see how well you do.  Cover up the answers first.  No cheating!

Question 4:  How did the number of chocolates people ate from covered, desktop candy dishes compare when the dishes were clear vs. when the dishes were white?

A.  They ate the same amount from both dishes.

B.  They ate more from the white dish.

C.  They are more from the clear dish.

ANSWER 4:  C.  Staff with clear desktop dishes ate 71 percent more (7.7 vs. 4.6 candies) than staff that ate candies from white dishes.  This equaled an average difference of 77 calories per day.  That could lead to over five pounds of extra weight in a years.

We tend to eat more of visible foods because we think about them every time we see them.  Eventually, our resistance is likely to weaken.

Questions 5:  At which location did people eat the most candy from a clear, lidded candy dish?

 A.  Corner of desk.

B.  Top left-hand desk drawer.

C.  On a file cabinet six feet from the desk.

D.  They ate the same amount from all locations.

ANSWER 5:  A.  People tended to eat the most when it was most convenient.  They ate an average of nine candies – or about 225 extra calories daily – when the candy dish was on their desk, compared to six candies when in the desk drawer and only four candies when they had to walk six feet.

In talking with people after the experiment, the researchers noticed something else.  When people had to walk a distance for a piece of candy, they had more time to think twice and talk themselves out of it.  So, if you have a food you’d like to eat less of, make it less convenient to eat.  Move it to a harder-to-reach cupboard shelf, store it in the basement, serve it from a buffet table vs. the dining table, etc.  Or, just don’t bring it into the house.

Question 6:  What percent of what we eat is determined by ‘nutritional gatekeepers’ (grocery shopper and food preparer)?

  A.  26%

  B.  61%

  C.  72%

ANSWER 6:  C.  Through eating more mindfully, whoever in your household is the ‘nutritional gatekeeper’ can influence his or her food intake as well as that of everyone else as much as 72 percent.

Make less healthy foods inconvenient to eat.  Promote reasonable portion sizes through the size and shape of dinnerware.  Encourage people to measure out and see the total amount they’re eating rather than eating directly from a container.

Are you now more aware of what and why you eat what you do?  Do you eat with your eyes and use a large plate or bowl, or do you now opt for smaller size dishes?

Person on computer and eating chips

Contact Our Expert!


Extension Educator:
Vicki Hayman – (307) 746-3531

University of Wyoming Extension

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Extension Educator:
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Issued in furtherance of extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kelly Crane, Director, University of Wyoming Extension, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming Extension, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071.

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