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Surprising M&M Experiment

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.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WINGS2DREAM 5/31/2010 9:08AM

    I have always gone for the simplicity of sameness for breakfast and lunch, sometimes a choice between one or two items.

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ID_VANDAL 5/31/2010 9:06AM

    That is so interesting! I would have never thought about it. When I would see a bowl of M&M's I would just grab a handful. I wonder how much those different colors added to each handful?

This is interesting stuff FreeLady. Thank you for sharing that with us!!

I can hardly wait for the next one!!

You have a great day!!



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FITJANE 5/30/2010 8:25PM

    Nice blog. My husband, who rarely varies in weight, eats the same breakfast
and the same lunch everyday. I am always going for variety. I think maybe I ought to try his approach!

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JLITT62 5/30/2010 4:47PM

    Very interesting. I never thought about thinking about what I want before I wander into the kitchen. Well, I do plan out most of my meals, but I never thought -- consciously -- about it when the munchies hit.

Great idea!

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WALKINGANNIE 5/30/2010 3:47PM

    Interesting. I saw a report on a similar experiment - with the same results - on a UK television programme.

Thanks for sharing the information.


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PMAY0313 5/30/2010 2:52PM

    Very interesting. One of my best friends works as a graphic designer for M&Ms. I will have to tell her about it. She struggles with her weight also. It is funny how our minds control us. Sometimes that is great...sometime not so much! Thanks for sharing.

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Fewer items make moderate eating easier

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

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FITJANE 5/30/2010 8:28PM

    I am really going to work on this by debulking the choices in my pantry for snacks, etc.

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FREELADY 5/30/2010 4:40PM

    Vandal asked about a June Challenge . . . our Beck leader Judi is getting us revvedup for June! See the new challenge "Back to Beck"

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SLENDERELLA61 5/30/2010 12:29PM

    So true! My hubby usually does the grocery shopping, but about once a month I go to the store to get things I want or things he can't find. If I buy 4 or 5 or 6 things special for me, I have to be careful. If I buy 1 or 2, no problem. -Marsha

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NANCY- 5/30/2010 12:00PM

    I have had a problem with "See" food. Setting limits helps me.

There is a difference between "mindless" and being "mindful". My feeling is that even being mindless we should still be mindful.

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ID_VANDAL 5/30/2010 9:08AM

    Wow FreeLady - I know what you wrote is true - I've done it so many times in a buffet line of just eating at a BBQ or whatever.

I just never "got it" on a conscious level! Following this advice can make meals easier to prepare - one veggie, one meat dish (or not), a simple salad and we're done! Salads can be made in several ways so they don't have to get boring - there are lots and lots of different veggies and so.

Great blog and very helpful!!




PS - I really flaked on the May challenge - are we doing anything for June?

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WARMSPRINGDAY 5/30/2010 9:02AM

    Great blog. That is usually how I cook, but good to be reminded. I think of traditional Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws where we used to have stuffing, mashed potatoes AND sweet potatoes - each a starch in its own right. But presented with all three - hmmm - yes we tend to eat all three.

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Grab a Skinny Glass!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I have been fascinated to learn several painless, nearly effortless techniques that have been proven to result in smaller portion size . . . I end up serving myself less without a "wrestling match."

Today's tip: When choosing a cup or glass, now I always pick the tall, skinny one--NOT the shorter, wider one. I will automatically pour less. I will think I am getting enough, with a smaller actual quantity.

Brian Wansinck demonstrated this repeatedly in his food behavior research lab; see his book Mindless Eating. It's easy to read and will keep your mental wheels turning for weeks!

Do you remember the optical illusion where a vertical bar is matched with an exactly-equal horizontal bar? The up-and-down line always appears longer to us; research has demonstrated this. In Dr. Wansink's experiments, even professional bartenders were heavily influenced by this perceptual issue when they judged portions.

I checked this out with the slightly squat juice glasses that my husband always usesfor morning milk & OJ. I took "the amount we always pour" and dumped it in a measuring cup-- that came out 6 ounces as I had always believed. But my smugness was snipped when I poured that same OJ into a taller glass that I "knew" was larger. It was not larger! I couldn't believe it! The "bigger" glass still held only 6 oz. That same OJ filled it up! I laughed out loud.

Certainly tricks cannot completely substitute for determination. Weight loss takes willpower . . . thousands of little choices where I step toward what I want MOST rather than what I want right now. HOWEVER, I will take whatever automatic assist I can discover!

I will blog several of these research results from Dr. Wansink. He has shown that eating behavior follows definite patterns. I'm endeavoring to harness these to help reduce my intake.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HEART2HOME 5/30/2010 7:16PM

    This is great! I switched to small plates about a year ago and am surprised at the difference it makes in our portion sizes.

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THERAPIST2 5/29/2010 11:08AM

    Great info. I look forward to more tidbits!

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NANCY- 5/29/2010 9:02AM

    "thousands of little choices where I step toward what I want MOST rather than what I want right now."
What a powerful statement. The hardest part to me is admitting that it was my choice in the first place. Taking responsibility.
It is interesting how we deceive ourselves.

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WARMSPRINGDAY 5/29/2010 8:36AM

    Great blog.

Using a smaller plate helps in portion control with what you eat, too. Same concept.

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MNHARGROVE 5/29/2010 7:54AM

    Great idea! I am going to try this. emoticon

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IMEMINE1 5/29/2010 7:23AM

    That's such a good idea.
I have a problem with portion control.
If I like it ,I eat too much of it.
Maybe I should trick myself more since my will power is not the greatest.

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If Winston Churchill had a SparkBlog . . .

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I think he would post this along the way . . .

Do not always expect that each day will bring up some noble chance . . .
but when you make up your mind that the thing has to be done and the job put through and finished, then, even if it takes months --- if it takes years --- do it.

We must learn to be equally good at what is short and sharp and what is long and tough.

Appearances are often very deceptive, and as Kipling well says, we must " with Triumph and Disaster. And treat those two impostors just the same."

You cannot tell from appearances how things will go.

Never give in. Never give in.
Never, never, never, never--in nothing,
great or small, large or petty--never give in,
except to convictions of honor and good sense.
Never yield to force.
Never yield to the apparently overwhelming .
We have only to persevere to conquer. Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days.

These are not dark days; these are great days--the greatest days ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable.

The passage above is adapted from Winston Churchill's speech to Harrow School, October 1941

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LILLYPILLY24 4/8/2011 1:17AM

    I've just been randomly looking at your old blogs to get to know you a bit better. This is SO wonderful. I'll be printing this and sticking it into my health journal.

Love it!

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FITJANE 5/24/2010 2:52PM

    Inspiring! We are out of the dark days!

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HEART2HOME 5/24/2010 8:52AM

    Wonderful! And so right!!!

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JENNYPENNY29 5/24/2010 8:50AM

    Love that speech. Makes me want to storm the Beach of Obesity!

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ID_VANDAL 5/24/2010 8:50AM

    He was so right about perseverance! Just getting past my recent rough patch and back on the road so I feel like you wrote this blog just for me!

What a great blog it is to!

Thanks - I think I post this at work and make sure I read 2 or 3 times a day!



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FLUENTFROG 5/23/2010 11:01PM

    Love it! Thank You.

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WARMSPRINGDAY 5/23/2010 11:57AM

    Great blog

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NANCY- 5/23/2010 11:21AM

    Do not always expect that each day will bring up some noble chance . .

Often we have to make that chance.

I like the message of perseverance.

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ANNANN63 5/22/2010 9:37PM

    Well said. I was talking with some friends at the dog park and told them that we all do have will power. When something needs doing and it is important to us, we do it no matter how we feel. When eating right and exercising become important enough we just don't give in--we keep going until we win.

I am 63, I carry most of my excess weight in my legs, I am never going to be a beauty at the beach in a skimpy suit--but I can be healthy and fit and strong and enjoy my life. I has taken me a lot of years to get to this place where being healthy is important enough to press through.

Thank you for all the encouraging posts on my blog. I am overcome with the love that SP folks (and you in particular) send out to others here. You are an inspiration to me and I appreciate you.


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WCATAP 5/22/2010 7:45PM

    Hahah this is great.

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Quote Digest 17 - Tools

Friday, May 21, 2010

Beck's (Day 5) emphasizes mindful eating further with deliberate slow eating in addition to the sitting down from (Day 3). I'm noticing in the slowing down to eat that I'm also slowing down and being more mindful the rest of the day. Kind of like the effect of mini-meditations. -from ReddyMom blog 3/10/10

If you truly feel eating gets out of control--try a trick a friend of mine uses. She allows herself to eat anything she really wants but first she must eat a serving of a fruit or vegetable. It helps fill her up so she eats less of the desired (and less healthy food) and it helps nourish her wonderful body. - from ANNANN63 Coaching Corner post 3/16/10

I suggest Writing instead of Biting. After all isn't the goal to STOP binging? This helps immensely!
- from KatMomma3 4/27/10 comment on Missy7Kids Blog 4/26/10

I remembered a little trick I had heard about . . . to eat a rainbow. . . offering a variety of foods in a variety of colors . . . getting a muffin tray and in each compartment putting a healthy food. These snack trays have now become a part of our everyday lives. It also helps tame my three year-old's incessant whining for more food (she is always hungry!). I fill the trays up in the morning after breakfast (6 am) and set them out around 8 am. I usually end up topping things off after lunch, but I make them eat something from every compartment first. It has been such a joy to see my kids get excited about food (they LOVE cauliflower)! It has actually motivated me to keep up the hard work of transforming our eating habits. - from DownHomeDiva blog 3/17/10

Send emails to yourself. You can encourage yourself via email, remind yourself of your new habit or the bad habit you are eliminating. You can email yourself your meal plan, reminders about exercise, motivation notes, whatever it takes. Reminders about your end goal. Be gentle to yourself notes, you are worth it notes, encouragement, phrases to strengthen your resistance muscle; you get the idea. Where this will work for me is to send my emails from home to work and work to home. When I get to work, I will find the encouragement and reminders I have sent myself. I will keep that email and read it a couple of times during the day. Before I leave I will send myself an email to my home account probably reminding me to plan my dinner and enter it before eating it. If I have not yet completed my strength training I will remind myself to get it done. I will play with this as well for the next week or so to see what impact it has on me. I just don't get why I didn't think of it before. I can use my calendars and task list to send me reminders, etc. and just keep myself engaged.
- from BigLittleWoman blog 4/7/10

I send text messages to my cell phone daily. I find it a great way to encourage myself to keep on track. I have the text messages scheduled to be delivered throughout the day. Each one is set to repeat at different intervals. Some are delivered daily and others Monday, Wednesday & Friday or Tuesday & Thursday. I use the Google Calendar associated with my Gmail email address. I helped a friend set up Yahoo Calendar as she had a Yahoo email address . . . Text Messaging Examples . . .
I want to be a good example to others!
I want to have more energy!
Exercise is important for my body!
I want to feel better about myself!
I Deserve to be THIN!
Eat slowly and mindfully!
I want to be in better health!
Always eat while sitting down! - from FJCINZION blog 3/12/10

I'd look at it this way, If I gave up one bad eating habit (say, drinking soda) I bet in a year the washer would be half way paid for. Everyone has their vices that cost money... chocolate, wine, eating out... give it up and use the money for something better for you. In this case, your sanity.
- from JODICRUSE comment on The_Jules blog 4/25/10

I have learned I can eat healthy for the same amount of money. It does not cost more to eat right. Box of Mac n Cheese at Wal-mart costs the same as Green Giant steamers bags of veggies. - from THE_JULES blog 3/11/10

If you stop eating the junk, the junk will stop calling your name. - from Pamazon blog 3/27/10

God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
- from 1 Corintians 10:13

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NANCY- 5/23/2010 11:18AM

    Thanks for sharing this. I really needed some of these ideas.


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