Is mindless eating a myth? That’s the question researcher Brian Wansink asked himself a few years ago when he created a social experiment in a Chicago movie theater. He gave moviegoers a free bucket of stale, 5 day old popcorn (The participants had no idea it was stale, although they freely admitted it tasted bad. In fact one moviegoer was quoted as saying, “It was like eating Styrofoam packing peanuts”.). Half the moviegoers randomly received a medium-sized bucket, while the other half randomly received a large bucket. On average, the participants who received the large bucket of popcorn ate 53% more than those that received the medium bucket. When interviewed after the experiment, most participants denied the possibility of being fooled into eating more because of the size of the bucket.
So what can we learn from the above experiment to help us lose weight?
- Don’t leave candy dishes lying around the house. By just making it accessible, you’ll unconsciously stop and eat it. The same goes for unhealthy snacks you like to consume during movies and/or television shows.
- Buy mini plates and bowls for your meals. You’ll consume less calories if a smaller plate looks full compared to a larger plate that looks only half full. Also, purchase the smaller snack size bags if you’re a snacker. You’ll eat less. Just don’t convince yourself that eating the smaller packages allows you to eat more.
Dieting doesn’t have to be hard. You just have to “trick” yourself into eating healthier.