Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink

Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink

Author:Brian Wansink
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Joosr Ltd

Make adjustments to your “tablescape” to reduce calories by up to 20 percent at each meal

The “tablescape” is a word used to describe everything that we lay out on the table at each meal: every plate, dish, glass, bread basket, butter dish… But if we look critically at what lies in our cupboards and perhaps invest in some new dishes and glasses, research suggests that we can cut calorie consumption by up to 20 percent.

There are two issues in the typical American kitchen that lead people to overeat: the size of the dishes, and size of the kitchen. Remember those optical illusions you puzzled over as a kid? The ones where you had to decide which dot was bigger: the one surrounded by small circles or the one surrounded by larger circles? The one surrounded by smaller circles always looked bigger, but of course they were actually both the same size. The same applies to food. Any portion of food will seem smaller on a bigger plate, and bigger on a smaller plate; it is as simple as that. Using huge plates, and absent-mindedly filling them to capacity, means we end up consuming far more than we need. Our plates are effectively dictating to us what is a reasonable serving size.

The same concept applies to drinking glasses. Studies have shown that we have a vertical bias—that is, we see tall, thin objects as bigger than wide, squat ones. So, if we’re drinking from a tall, narrow glass of soda, it will feel as if we are drinking more than if we were drinking from a short, wide glass of the same volume. To reduce the amount we eat and drink, one simple method is to serve food on smaller dishes and serve high-calorie drinks in taller, narrower glasses: this way our brain is “tricked” into believing the portions are bigger than they are, and we are thus more likely to feel satisfied.

Furthermore, American-style kitchens are generally much bigger than those typically found in Asia or Europe, and that space tends to get filled with a greater variety of goods: three flavors of cereal; four types of chips; cola, lemonade, and root beer. Variety is the dieter’s downfall, because choice encourages us to eat more: having filled up on one type of food, we move onto another. For example, a study into snacking habits concluded that participants who were offered ten colors of M&Ms typically ate 43 percent more than those who were offered seven colors. All colors of M&Ms taste the same, so the appeal didn’t lie in the actual variety of flavors, but just the perception of variety—which in turn led to overconsumption.

So, an easy way to cut back on calories would be to think carefully about what we put on our table and in our cupboards. We can serve food in smaller serving dishes, and use tall, narrow glasses for soda, so that quantities appear more generous and therefore satisfy the eye before the stomach. Additionally, we should


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