Coping With Mindless Munchies

Obesity avoided by making simple changes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Thinking about how much you’re eating is just one extra thing to worry about with everything else that’s going on. So instead, make your world a friendly mindless eating environment.

Researchers have found that mindless eating contributes to weight gain, but they also have a few suggestions that could help prevent weight gain while continuing to eat mindlessly.

"Lose weight with smaller portions, dishes and cups."

Brian Wansink, Ph.D., the John Dyson Endowed Chair in the Applied Economics and Management Department at Cornell University, says change your environment to help with losing weight.

Mindless eating does occur, but there’s just too much chaos going on in our lives to think about every little bite, Wansink says.

Wansink performed a study to see how bad mindless eating was. There were 168 participants who were given fresh or stale popcorn in different size containers during a movie. People who had an extra large tub of fresh popcorn ended up eating 45 percent more than those who had a large container.

Similar results were seen for people who received stale popcorn!

People are simply not noticing how much they’re eating regardless of the quality of the food, Wansink commented.

He then performed a similar study with drinks. People poured 37 percent more in short, wider cups than tall, skinny ones.

Wansink also disproves the theory that people stop eating when they’re full. He says, don’t trust your stomach to tell you when you’re full because it can lie.

Wansink brought in 60 people for a free lunch who received either a normal 22 ounce bowl or a bottomless 22 ounce bowl. The group that had the bottomless bowl ended up eating 73 percent more than those with normal bowls.

Thinking about what you eat can be difficult but with a few simple changes around the house, mindless eating can be managed:

  • Choose smaller plates to eat off of instead of large dinner plates
  • Put healthy foods in plain view rather than unhealthy ones
  • Don’t eat in front of the TV

This research was presented at the American Psychological Association's 119th Annual Convention.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 8, 2011
Last Updated:
August 10, 2011