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Under the Influence

Stuff out there can make us crazy in here. What I mean is really a couple of questions. Why did you just eat 4 Lindt truffles from the glass bowl on your desk? Why did you buy a large popcorn at the movies just half an hour after dinner? Why did you serve yourself such a large bowl of ice cream? And here comes the guilt – see what I mean?  Stuff out there tempts us, crazy thoughts whirl.

Nutrition Action newsletter this month highlights my nutrition-undercover-hero, Brian Wansink. He’s at Cornell and he does some zany research projects. Mostly not to uncover cues that send us to overeating fast food or wolfing it down or even eating food that isn’t tasty but to CHANGE that. Over the course of the next few days, I’m uncovering these change tactics for you right here.

For today, the focus is on Brian’s statement, “It’s easier to change the environment than to change your mind.”  So many reasons for over eating:  I’m bored, sad, mad, glad, stressed, starving, phenomenal taste. Why then would we overeat if we’re not hungry?

Dr. Wansink gave very fresh popcorn to a group of moviegoers. He gave very stale popcorn to another group at the same theater. These people had just eaten dinner so were not hungry.  In essence, he gave them bad food when they weren’t hungry. Even so, people ate 34% more from the bigger bucket; 45% more from the larger bags. When asked if the size of their bucket influenced the overeating of stale popcorn, they replied, “No, how could it?”

Moral of the Story:  Your mind is made up – those external cues (buttery smell of popcorn) get you every time.  So……get the smallest popcorn.  Reduce portions at dinner – eat an appetizer instead of an entree paired with a salad.  Avoid alcohol during dinner – save your glass of wine for an after-movie dessert (alcohol reduces inhibitions and leads to the munchies). Change your environment!

 

 

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