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What Is Mindless Eating? - Dr. Georgiou

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Dr. Georgiou describes mindless eating, a concept developed by Cornell professor Dr. Brian Wansink.

Dr. Georgiou:
‘Mindless Eating’ is a book and a concept developed by Dr. Brian Wansink, a professor at Cornell University that starts with the following premises. One is that it’s too hard to be on a diet all the time. It is too hard to always be watching what you are eating. And so he puts that aside and acknowledges that we just, as human beings, can’t be good about that 100% of the time.

The other premise he has is that we eat, not just because we are hungry, but because we are stimulated by cues in our environment and sometimes those cues tell us to eat even when we are not hungry. So in his book “Mindless Eating” he goes through and describes a series of research studies that demonstrate how cues and the environment can influence what we actually put in our mouth. So let me give you some examples.

If you set your dinner table with serving platters of food then people are 30% more likely to take seconds from that platter of food than if you simply sat your table with plates but put the serving platters with the food on a counter that’s at least six feet away. Why? Because if the food is sitting in front of you at the table you are constantly being reminded that there’s additional food to take and if you are the first one that’s done eating and others are still eating at the table you want to be part of the social experience and you will take seconds.

How many calories does that add to your daily consumption? But, what his research showed is that if you put the platters on a counter six feet away, if you are not really hungry you are much less likely to get up to go get seconds; think about how many calories that can save you over the course of a week, a few months or a year.

One of the other examples that he gives is that he demonstrates how the human eye is satisfied psychologically by the height of volume in a particular glass. So if you fill a short, fat glass with a drink you are looking for how high it’s going to reach within the glass itself and you could be pouring yourself much more of a sugary drink than a normal serving size.

But if you use a tall, skinny glass then you will get much less volume with just as much psychological satisfaction from that drink with many fewer calories. So he begins to really demonstrate how the cues in the environment, the size of your plates, the height of your glasses, where you place platters of food – all are subconscious drivers and influencers of what we eat and you can change your environment so that you don’t have to think about, “Am I on a diet? How much am I going to eat? What’s my calorie count? What’s my portion control going to be?” You are naturally stimulated by the environment to eat a normal amount. It’s really cool.

About Dr. Archelle Georgiou, M.D.:
Dr. Archelle Georgiou combines her deep knowledge of clinical medicine with a breadth of experience in business and health care administration to pursue her passion for simplifying the health care system. As a practicing physician and as a corporate managed care executive, Dr. Georgiou learned and leveraged the value and importance of simple and compelling communication to influence impacting patients’ personal health care behaviors as well as driving health care purchasing decisions and business growth.

Visit Dr. Georgiou at her website

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