I just finished listening to the audiobook Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink. It’s an excellent book! It’s one I’m seriously considering purchasing for my own bookshelf. (I’d like to actually read the book since I’m a visual learner and likely missed or forgot some of the information after just hearing it…)
I was in the market for a weight-loss book that wouldn’t just give me strategies for weight loss but would also touch on the why’s of my behavior. Instead of being preachy, this book did that in a fun and entertaining way. Wansink describes in detail the various experiments and research strategies he and his team used to uncover the mysteries behind mindless eating. Since I enjoy the learning about the psychology behind certain behaviors, this was right up my alley.
He pegged me in several instances. One that stands out is the fact that when I eat, I always save my favorite food for last. According to his studies, that’s typical of only children (which I was for eight years) and people who come from small families. It boils down to the fact that I didn’t have to worry about my favorite thing being eaten up by others. (People who eat their favorite food first are among those who are the younger siblings in their families and likely came from larger families where food was stretched a little more.) It also boils down to the fact that I’m more likely to overeat. Because I don’t want my favorite food (or any food for that matter) to go to waste, I’ll clean my plate.
I also liked the points he made about dieting. It doesn’t work, especially if you deprive yourself of the things you love. Deprivation leads to frustration and binging, which leads to guilt, which starts the cycle all over again. Who needs that?!?
I didn’t agree with all the points Wansink made. He looks at leftovers in a different light where overeating is concerned. He sees it as evidence that too much food was prepared, thus indicating a natural bent toward overeating. I see it as an opportunity to save money and time by not having to cook at least one night a week. We save up the leftovers for a few days, then have a leftover buffet one night. Very little goes to waste that way.
All my life I’ve been a mindless eater. I just never paid that much attention to what or how much I was eating. When I was younger I never had to worry about it, but now it’s come back to bite me in my ever-enlarging butt. Bad habits left to run free in younger years lead to continued bad habits that are hard to get rid of when you’re older. Not impossible, but very difficult. That’s why I’m trying to teach my boys good eating habits now while they’re young. I hope they are able to appreciate this and follow through when they’re older so they won’t have the same weight struggles their dad and I have…
That’s not to say I never pay attention to what or how much I’m eating now. Often I do. Sometimes I really work to be diligent in not overeating. Other times I just don’t care. Until I step on the scale again and see the damage I’ve done…
When I came across this title in my library’s ebook collection, I snatched it up. The timing was perfect. I had been okay with controlling my eating, paying better attention to things – then I went with several family members on a vacation to Florida. We didn’t eat out much. Instead we cooked our meals in our condo. And boy, were they great meals! That in itself wouldn’t have been so bad, but there were also tons of sweets – both prepackaged and freshly baked. That, plus the road trip snacks we ate on the way there and back sent me back into the deep end of mindless snacking.
Now that I’m leaning back toward more mindful eating, I’m going to follow Wansink’s recommendation to set three guidelines to follow to make my mindful eating more of a habit than eating mindlessly. He made several suggestions throughout the book, but he acknowledged that everything won’t work for everyone. How true! What works for one person won’t always work for me. What motivates another person doesn’t necessarily motivate me. I have to pick and choose my own battles.
So what three guidelines am I setting for myself?
1. Drink a full glass of water at the beginning of every meal. (This helped me before, but then I quit doing it… I intend to be more mindful of it now.)
2. Do not snack straight out of the box/bag. Put a portion in a small bowl and eat only that amount.
3. No second helpings at meals. And no increasing first helpings because of it! I guess that also includes finishing off what my boys leave on their plates… Thankfully that’s not too frequent! Seriously, it pains me to have to throw food out.
These small strategies – as long as I’m mindful to follow them – should help me start losing weight without having to go on a diet or exercise ferociously. As Wansink says, “The best diet is the one you’re not on.”