26 December 2011

'Mindless Eating', by Brian Wansink

Brian Wansink is a researcher whose creative studies ask: why do we eat the way that we do? He finds that our decisions into eating rely much more on external cues (the shape of the glass that holds our orange juice, how quickly others are eating, whether we are watching TV) than on things like how hungry we are.

The way Wansink peers into the psyche of eating is entertaining. In one study, he served some restaurant-goers tomato soup in a bowl that was secretly connected to a hose. As the subjects chowed down, the hose constantly refilled the bowl. He found that the subjects had to eat much more soup than the controls in order to feel full. The lesson? Visual cues can dictate how much we actually eat.

His book, "Mindless Eating," was a delight to read and is geared towards the general public. Although I was more interested in the experiments themselves (scientist as I am), Wansink uses the lessons from his studies to recommend strategies beyond traditional diets for people to take charge of their nutrition and lose weight.

I strongly recommend it, especially for those interested in public nutrition and their own diet.