Wednesday, June 02, 2010
In Mindless Eating, food research Dr. Bruce Wansink explains how powerful smell is in the food choice, and enjoyment process.
I thought of this when I drank water out of a cola bottle my son left. I washed it out first, but there was still a strong aroma of cola as I drank it and had my nose right by the grooves and other plastic retaining the scent. My first thought after swigging the water was, "I've had flat Cokes that didn't taste any better than that." Just the nostril-full of Cola-ness was enough to echo the perception of drinking pop.
A victory here is that it did not make me want Coke. I have been Coke-sober 2 months. Really? Me? Astonishing! I can do this.
Smells can make you fat . . . the fragrances get your salivary glands going. Studies have shown that not only are digestive juices are produced in response to smell, but also insulin production begins.I have to "block out" the Cinnabon smells in the mall and the grilling smells at sports events. But smells do not go on my nutrition tracker. Whew!
If it is not time for a planned meal or snack, I will avoid yummy smells where feasible. But if it's close to eating time, I inhale deeply. Often I can get genuine pleasure from a fabulous food aroma. I tell myself, "I don't have to eat that. I can savor the smell itself." Doesn't work every time, but I like "feeding" more senses, the non-caloric ones!
Another smell-strategy I have is to (where reasonable) hold a food in your hand and bite it. The fragrance is MUCH stronger that way. Especially if an allowed portion seems tiny, this multiplies the enjoyment for me . . . as long as it's not too barbaric! This is a alternative strategy to cutting a small item into tiny pieces and eating with a small fork to make it last longer. I use both approaches. Switch it up, right?!
Monday, May 31, 2010
I expressed my idea ineffectively yesterday!
What promotes overeating is too much variety *at a given meal.* The more choices at a sitting, the more quantity people will eat, research shows.
It is actually beneficial to incorporate a variety of foods over the day or week's time. One reason is to cover the spectrum of nutrients available in different sources. Another reason is to keep up our level of interest and pleasure in healthy choices.
All of you who responded about keeping it simple are so sensible and proactive! It is so helpful to me to hear how you do things!
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Food researcher Brian Wansink found that moviegoers who were offered M&Ms in 10 colors ate 43 PERCENT MORE than those given the same amount of M&Ms in seven colors! He concludes that the perception of variety affects how much a person consumes.
This is astonishing to me since all M&Ms taste exactly the same---the color is in the coating but doesn't change the flavor at all. Plus I would have thought I'd never notice whether a bowl had 7 colors or 10 colors. But over and over Wansink proved that these external conditions stimulate eating behavior even when we're not aware of it.
“People eat with their eyes, and their eyes trick their stomachs,” Wansink said in an interview. “If we think there’s more variety in a candy dish or on a buffet table, we will eat more. The more colors we see, the more we eat.”
Every study I hear reinforces that I have to eat by a calm, calculated plan. I absolutely cannot go on the inclination of the moment. It is proven that it will lead to overeating.
I'm applying this by thinking through my food plan before I go in the kitchen. Then I can make a beeline to get out specific foods, and not need to spend time standing in front of the frig or the pantry.
I have already noticed that in a restaurant, if I take too long looking at the menu (most are full of mouth-watering photos of food), it over-stimulates my hunger. For me, I end up with a better result if I find a healthy option quickly and close the menu and put it out of reach.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Research has demonstrated that with more variety available, people WILL eat more. More food, more calories, more weight gain.
Dr. Wansink in Mindless Eating tells of many experiments with hundreds of people. Same results every time: the more dishes on the table, the more we eat.
Even with a simple selection like 3 varieties of yogurt: over and over, the subject eats far more when three kinds are there, even when the single-selection test that's being compared is her very favorite kind.
Dr. Wansink recommends this as part of an "eating script," a way of routinely doing things that can make healthy, moderate choices almost "mindless." (He uses "mindless" very differently from Dr. Beck in The Beck Diet Solution. Wansink really means "automatic" or "habitual," referring to something that doesn't take a lot of thought or willpower, it just happens fairly easily. Washing my hands repeatedly as I cook is mindless; it's not an effort--it "comes naturally" because that's what I've done for so long.
So the suggestion is to plan a meal that contains just a few items. If you offer your family marinara sauce or mushroom sauce, what will many choose? BOTH!
The other factor here is what they call flavor-specific satiety. That just means, you might feel you've eaten enough basil chicken, but if dill salmon appears, research shows you'll feel you can eat that, too. So I'm planning simpler meals--still the same calories and nutrients--but fewer serving dishes will be an aid to not overeating.
I saw this operation so clearly tonight. On Saturday night DH and I often split a chicken-veggie take-out entree from the Thai restaurant, and feel full. Often I don't even finish my half. But tonight the older kids were here and ordered a different chicken dish, so I caught myself wanting a little portion of that, also. And the 17-year-old made a pizza after his long bike ride . . . guess what: that looked fabulous to me, and I had to move it where I couldn't see it, even though I absolutely had enough to eat already!
Modern Americans are very accustomed to all this variety and think nothing of it. But it's a lot easier to keep everyone at a healthy weight when ONE protein-and-vegetables choice is present!
Tomorrow: The Astonishing M & M test
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