Is your environment increasing your mindless eating?

Mindful eating is a hot topic these days.  It emphasizes paying attention to hunger and satiety, how food taste, how much we are eating, and eating without distractions.  In essence, mindful eating is being attentive to how we eat so that we can live and eat better.

Preview the book on Amazon!

Recently, I have been hearing a lot about Brian Wansink’s Mindless Eating, Why We Eat More Than We Think.  Wansink is a PhD food psychologist and researcher for Cornell University.  In his book, he compiles 20 years of research on how people eat, how much people eat, and why people eat.

I am only ¾ the way through this book, but so far I have found it humorous and enjoyable as well as practical and informative.  This book pertains to everyone, and I would highly recommend it!

I love Wansink’s philosophy.

“Food is a great pleasure in our life- not something we should compromise.  We simply need to shift our surroundings to work with our lifestyles instead of against it. (10)”

Throughout the book, Wansink uncovers the environmental persuaders that lead us to overeat and gives tools to eliminate them. For example:

-Can your plate size really influence your portion sizes and how much you eat? YES!

Tool: Use 8” plates at your meals (which is really the size plates used to be!) instead of 12” plates.  Also, use tall, thin glasses to drink from because they hold less volume but give the illusion they are bigger!

-Does something as simple as seeing food tend to make us eat more? YES!

Tool: Keep snacks and food out of sight (tucked away in refrigerators and pantries).  The reverse would be to keep fruits and vegetables within eyeshot to boost your intake of them.

-Do environmental factors like music, the number of people at our table, and the color of a room influence our eating behaviors? YES!

Tool: Try eating without distractions like music, the TV, or your computer.  This will allow you to enjoy your food more as well as be mindful of the amount of food you’re eating.

The truth is that all of us are victims of mindless eating from time to time.  Our environment plays a huge role in the foods we eat and how much of them we eat.  At the same time, there are tools and ways to make your environment work with you toward a healthier lifestyle not against you.  Have you read Mindless Eating yet?

Post by Janet Zimmerman, a University of Memphis Nutrition Student and Schilling Nutrition Therapy, LLC Intern. You can follow Janet on Twitter as well at