Brian Wansink studies how you eat. He’s a professor of consumer behavior and nutritional science at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, and he’s written several books, including Mindless Eating and Slim By Design. Essentially, he’s a proponent of controlling our immediate environment – particularly in our own homes and kitchens – to help foster healthier eating patterns. The size and color of our plates, the shape of our glasses, how our food is stored in our refrigerator and cabinets can all influence how much we eat… and he offers tips to help us to design our environment to make better choices.
An article in Lifhacker’s Vitals talks about Wansink’s approach and links to a simple checklist of ways to “help your kitchen make you slim.”
Wansink has provided this sort of “checklist” (PDF) that’ll guide you toward making your home environment more conducive to healthy eating. You’ll find tips like eating from smaller plates; placing a bowl of fresh fruit plainly visible in the kitchen; keeping junk food out of sight (and out of reach); and keeping the TV turned off while you eat. These familiar-sounding tips are based on food psychology and work by manipulating your environment to let you continue eating “mindlessly.” At the same time, you end up making better choices without needing to tap into your willpower much or at all.
We’ve got two video clips that offer more on his ideas. The first is a CNN 5 minute intro to some of his ideas on Mindless Eating. It shows some of the tests that he ran and why we are so easily tricked into overeating.
The second clip is a longer but highly entertaining 22 minute talk in which Wansink takes on two myths: that “buffets make us fat” and “we are smarter than a cereal bowl.” He talks about ways to make small structural changes to our environment to push us in the right direction, and offers tips. He talks about how our eyes often trick us about portion sizes. For example, in switching from a larger to a smaller bowl, the portion difference may seem imperceptible but the difference over a year could be as much as 17 pounds.