Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Enormous Bowl Made Me Eat Too Much Ice Cream!

Like most Americans, I love having someone or something to blame for my problems. I happily stumbled across Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink and read it over the weekend. In doing so, I learned that I am not entirely to blame for my uncontrolled sweet snacking. Is there better news than this? I think not. While it wasn't the best book I've ever read, it is backed by some serious academic research and I found some points to be quite enlightening. Although some of these ideas may seem basic, his research proved time and again that we're all fooled by our eating environment. I was intrigued by how consistent the results were with each of his experiments. I don't want to spoil the whole thing for you, but here are some fun facts and how I applied them to my life:

1. The average person makes 200 food choices daily.
So of course some of those decisions are going to be wrong. No one is perfect 100% of the time. Especially when they're at it 200 times a day. I can't be blamed entirely for making some poor food choices. With those numbers, it's bound to happen.

2. People always eat more snacks that are kept within reach/sight. So having a plate of sugar cookies sitting on my counter isn't such a great idea after all? I can't help eating them if they're right there. It's the cookie's fault for being there, not my fault for eating it.

3. Humans are conditioned to like sweet foods. My sweet tooth is totally genetic.

4. People eat more or less based on bowl/plate size. The larger the bowl/plate, the more you'll eat. I'm not to blame for my increased ice cream consumption. My over-sized bowls are.

5. People always underestimate the number of calories they consume. We all suck at this. Not just me.

This is all based on science, folks. Guess I won't be feeling too guilty after all. But now that I've learned these facts, I'm going to use them to help me resist the urge to overindulge on sweets. Fighting that battle will be easier if I employ these tactics:

1. Be more conscious of the food decisions I do make. Don't just mindlessly grab a handful of candy and start snacking on it.

2. Keep treats behind cupboards and in opaque containers so that I don't have constant reminders that they are in the house.

3. Allow myself an occasional treat (this is what I'm trying to do), but remember the first few bites are always the best. There's no need to overdo it.

4. Serve myself ice cream in a mug, not an enormous bowl; serve myself cookies, cake, etc. on a small plate, not a large one.

5. Truthfully, I'm not going to worry so much about calories. But I am going to stick to my one treat rule on the weekdays and that will ensure that I don't go overboard on my calorie consumption.

Here's to learning that I'm not entirely to blame. And here's to using that knowledge in a way that will help me steer clear of temptation (hopefully 199 times out of 200).

sugar situation: yesterday I ate an apple dipped in caramel sauce. Such a great fall treat.


Steve and Kenna said...

I started having dinner on small plates. It does help.

klortz said...

We have been eating dinner on salad plates for years. I truly believe it helps. Rock on!

Mary Poppins said...

kenna and klortz--you've got this totally figured out already.

Me, Myself and I said...

Salad plates. Who da thunk it?

And I agree... it is the bowls fault!

Mary Poppins said...

me, myself, and I--so glad you're on my side. I love blaming the bowl.

amydear said...

I can't serve dinner on salad plates because I don't like my food to touch. But I take as much vegetable as starch, and no meat, or just two or three bites. And I definitely keep treats hidden! No candy bowls out at this house. And I have an enormous bowl of ice cream on occasion, because who wants to live so strictly?

Mary Poppins said...

amydear--it sounds like you are following the 1/2 plate rule he talks about: 1/2 of your plate should be veggies and fruits and the other half should be protein and starch. as for the enormous bowl of ice cream, i'm with you on that. that's what i've decided the weekends are for.