When it comes to eating, your mind – not your stomach – is in control. And it doesn’t always do a good job when making food decisions. In fact, most people gain weight because their minds don’t accurately keep track of how much they eat – not because they don’t have the willpower to put down their fork. Dr. Brian Wansink is the author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. And he says there are several ways our minds influence our eating habits. Here are a few, courtesy of the Bottom Line Personal.
- If it LOOKS like a small meal, it FEELS like a small meal. If you put a sandwich on a dinner plate, it’ll look smaller and seem like you’re eating less than if you put that SAME sandwich on a salad plate. You should also drink from tall, thin glasses – not short fat ones – so you’ll think you’re drinking more. And try this trick: serve your meals over a bed of lettuce so the plate looks full. Restaurants do this all the time.
- We feel full when there’s VISUAL evidence that we’ve eaten. In a study, researchers gave chicken wings to students while they watched the Super Bowl. When they left the bones in front of the students, they ate and average of 4 wings each. But when the bones we’re cleared away frequently, each student averaged 6 wings – but later estimated they’d only eaten 4. Take home lesson? When you’re snacking, leave visual evidence so that your eyes can warn you about how much you’ve eaten. Things like candy wrappers, peanut shells or any packaging.
- When there’s no distance to the food, we eat without thinking. Another study found that office workers ate about 9 Hershey’s kisses a day when the bowl was on their desk. But when it was 6 feet away – they ate less than half that amount. And although that’s only 2 steps away, it forces us to think twice before eating. So when you’re at home, fill plates in the kitchen and leave the leftovers on the stove instead of bringing them to the table. The more hassle it is to eat, the less you will.