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Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think | [Brian Wansink]

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

In this illuminating and groundbreaking new book, food psychologist Brian Wansink shows why you may not realize how much you're eating, what you're eating, or why you're even eating at all.
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Publisher's Summary

In this illuminating and groundbreaking new book, food psychologist Brian Wansink shows why you may not realize how much you're eating, what you're eating, or why you're even eating at all.

  • Does food with a brand name really taste better?
  • Do you hate brussels sprouts because your mother did?
  • Does the size of your plate determine how hungry you feel?
  • How much would you eat if your soup bowl secretly refilled itself?
  • What does your favorite comfort food really say about you?
  • Why do you overeat so much at healthy restaurants?

Brian Wansink is a Stanford Ph.D. and the director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. He's spent a lifetime studying what we don't notice: the hidden cues that determine how much and why people eat. Using ingenious, fun, and sometimes downright fiendishly clever experiments, like the "bottomless soup bowl", Wansink takes us on a fascinating tour of the secret dynamics behind our dietary habits. How does packaging influence how much we eat? Which movies make us eat faster? How does music or the color of the room influence how much we eat? How can we recognize the "hidden persuaders" used by restaurants and supermarkets to get us to mindlessly eat? What are the real reasons most diets are doomed to fail? And how can we use the "mindless margin" to lose, instead of gain, 10 to 20 pounds in the coming year?

Mindless Eating will change the way you look at food, and it will give you the facts you need to easily make smarter, healthier, more mindful, and enjoyable choices at the dinner table, in the supermarket, in restaurants, at the office, and even at a vending machine - wherever you decide to satisfy your appetite.

©2006 Brian Wansink; (P)2006 Books on Tape

What the Critics Say

"Entertaining...Isn't so much a diet book as a how-to on better facilitating the interaction between the feed-me messages of our stomachs and the controls in our heads." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (344 )
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  •  
    Jim Laredo, TX, USA 11-25-06
    Jim Laredo, TX, USA 11-25-06
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    "Mindless Reading"

    I'd hoped for insights on more deeply psychological reasons for mindless eating, and tips for overcoming mindless eating. Alas, this is mostly just a recitation of the author's numerous field and academic studies proving (or attempting to prove) that packaging, portion size, relative dish or bowl or glass sizes, and the like affect the amounts people eat and drink. Only near the very end does he address how to cope with these variables, but it's pretty obvious by then. My main gripe is the excess of needlessly detailed and repetitive study data going to prove a few not very original or helpful points about what makes people misjudge portion sizes and, as a result, overeat. Would have made an okay 4-page magazine article; maybe that's how it started? Certainly the tone of the book reflects the stale cliches and puffy and quickly dated pop culture references one expects in popular magazine writing--and the result sounds stiff and insincere. Sorry, the topic does not merit and the style does not suit a book of this length.

    66 of 71 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecc Jacksonville, FL, USA 07-18-07
    Rebecc Jacksonville, FL, USA 07-18-07 Member Since 2002
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    "Valuable information for anyone who eats."

    Its pretty long, but an easy listen. The narrator is pleasant and there is a bit of relaxed humor tossed in. I found the descriptions of the food studies long enough for validation, but brief enough to keep things moving along. The results are some tips that everyone can incorprate into their lives to keep on top of the battle of the bulge:)
    Most importantly, this book gives tips for lifestyle changes that can be permanent. Enough fad diet books already out there!(They don't work.)

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher B. Behrens Kennedale, TX USA 08-29-07
    Christopher B. Behrens Kennedale, TX USA 08-29-07 Member Since 2005
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    "Strategies and Tactics for Taking Control"

    I understand where Jim from Laredo was coming from; the author largely avoids the deeper philosophical implications of his work in exchange for a tighter focus on tactics. Read this book in order to begin to understand your eating and to begin to take control of the "mindless" portion of it.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom Sunland, CA, USA 05-31-07
    Tom Sunland, CA, USA 05-31-07 Member Since 2000
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    "A Revelation"

    A real eye-opener: the author (a food psychology researcher, associated with a university, with grad students and everything) identifies the factors that influence us to eat just a little more, and shows how these can be consciously manipulated to eat just a little bit less.

    (And that's all that's needed: most people gain about a pound a year, on average, which corresponds to about a +10 calories per day surplus. Tiny tricks can get this down to -10 calories per day, or even the -260 calories per day deficit needed to lose a 1/2 a pound a week (26 pounds a year).

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ty Minneapolis, MN, USA 04-10-10
    Ty Minneapolis, MN, USA 04-10-10 Member Since 2012
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    "Frustrating book on a lot of levels..."

    I liked the premise of the book, but found actually listening to it frustrating on a lot of levels. He spends a lot of time on specific food interactions, but never really steps back to look at the question of why people are having such strong food cravings and eating so much junk food. Advice like "if you eat one fewer donuts per day that adds up to losing 20 lbs a year" doesn't really do much for me. He also doesn't really seem to examine whether the people who avoid junk food by not walking through the kitchen when they got home didn't go back later. The book also suffers from the author's conviction that pretty much all weight gain and food related issues arise from the context of people's day to day interactions with food. The obesity epidemic had a physical beginning in the early 1980s and if you were to take this book literally you'd have to assume that this was entirely due to secretaries moving their candy jars from 6 feet away to 3 feet away and more people entering their home through the kitchen rather than the garage, combined with increasing the size of dinner plates and using short wide glasses rather than tall thin ones. I'd suggest that rather than studying what makes a person eat 30 M&Ms vs 50, the author should start to work on studying how to get rid of these cravings. You can move a bowl of candy further away from you, but you're deluding yourself if you think you'll lose much weight with a bowl of candy around to begin with.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendy Westford, MA, United States 11-10-11
    Wendy Westford, MA, United States 11-10-11 Member Since 2008
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    "Psychology theory, not a dieter's book"

    I was intrigued by the title because I thought the book could give me tips for weight loss. Why do I eat what I do? What can I do to change it? The book is a very good psychology theory book on why we eat what we do and backs up those findings with live studies performed by college professors and students. The findings are real and make sense, but if you're looking for quick weight loss tips or several chapters to help you with uncontrolled eating, this is not the book for you. I was looking for tips on weight loss and found some nuggets of wisdom (and common sense) buried in lots of data and studies. I rated this book relatively highly because, as a former psychology student, I did enjoy hearing about the studies and their results. But if I was just looking for quick diet answers, this book would have been disappointing to me.
    In a nutshell,
    - Think about the mindless things you eat out of habit. The author, Brian, provides the rule of thumb that you should take a "0" off the end of the calorie count of some snack you habitually eat and that will be the weight you will gain in a year if you continue that habit. For example, if you eat a snack every night that has 100 calories, in a year you will have gained 10 pounds. The reverse, he says, is also true. If you cut out a snack every night that has 100 calories, you will lose 10 pounds if your calorie intake is otherwise balanced.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Westmont, IL, United States 09-28-13
    Amazon Customer Westmont, IL, United States 09-28-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Best diet book on the market"
    Any additional comments?

    I've read every Michael Pollan book (in defense of food, omnivours dilemma, cooked), Gary taubes book (why we get fat, good calories bad calories), Skinny Bitch, Jungle Effect, Rethinking Thin, Eat More Weigh Less, Atkins, South Beach. I had been obese for 15 years. I've been thin for almost two years now with a BMI of 23 and body fat of 8 percent. My BMI is the same as Lance Armstrongs in his prime. That being said, this book is as close to the most perfect diet book I've ever read. It gives solid advice and explains a lot. It explains why low carb works then stops working. It explains why we eat too much. But also, it entertains. The science is sound. The studies are interesting. The reading is good. Skip all the other books. Drink a few protein shakes and read this book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kalina 10-25-09
    Kalina 10-25-09 Member Since 2009
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    "Very funny and interesting"

    What you will not find in this book is advice how to eat and diet better. What you will find are examples - supported by several studies - how people choose their food. It's really astonishing how details influence what and how much we eat. Knowing that, one could choose the meals better, provided we always think before we choose.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gina Camas, WA, USA 08-18-09
    Gina Camas, WA, USA 08-18-09 Member Since 2009
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    4
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    3
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    "Interesting, enlightening, practical advice"

    I enjoyed every minute of this book, and am on my third "reading". I have started eliminating the mindless eating from my diet, incorporated 4 new tactics, and find I enjoy my food (and drink) more and am increasingly aware of my hunger/satiety. A great book for those looking for lasting change. (Yes, I'm losing weight effortlessly). Love the descriptions of social experiments, and narrator's voice is easy on the ears.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Appleton, WI, United States 03-18-13
    David Appleton, WI, United States 03-18-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Interesting book - somewhat repetitive"

    I liked the topic in the book and found the research that was presented to be interesting. My only complaint was toward the end of the book, you could guess with reasonable accuracy what the next study was going to show. Part of the book seemed repetitive.

    This book has led me to change a few eating habits - but I don't think will cause a lifestyle revolution for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 22 results PREVIOUS123NEXT
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  • Sian
    Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom
    6/18/07
    Overall
    "anyone got the munchies...?"

    An excellent book - not a diet book in the usual sense of the word, but then I wasn't looking for a diet book. However, if you are looking for the answers as to why you reach for that second/third/fourth (delete as appropriate) biscuit then maybe this book can provide a little enlightenment. There are definitely parts of the book when you will think to yourself ''it seems so obvious now that its been explained!'' and if anyone offers you free snacks on the way into the cinema in future you will certainly think twice about the motivation. Anyhow just to conclude, the content is interesting and the narrative engaging, so if your looking for something a bit different to your usual listen, then try this book.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Jan
    Denmark
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "So much more then food"

    This book describes in great details why we as human do some of the things we know we should not do and how we fool our mind going so. The books focus on food, but there are so many other aspects also covered, which makes this book great.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Clayshaw
    7/30/11
    Overall
    "Some proper science and simple help"

    Great book. Finally a sensible approach to eating and a proper scientific insight in to what motivates us to eat.

    Forget about every fad diet you've ever been on, this all makes good proper scientific sense and should work. As the author states this is not a diet book but if you listen and take it in you will no doubt understand what drives you to eat and lose weight very gently and slowly which is the only successful way.

    I recommend this to anyone who is interested in proper weight loss and not just trying to get down two dress sizes for a holiday or wedding. It is also a valuable read to anyone working in health care as the information in this can help you understand why we all struggle with weight loss so much and give people some clear science based guidance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Pamela
    London, United Kingdom
    7/21/11
    Overall
    "Eye Opening"

    This is a very eye opening book with great experiments to back up the information presented. It's a study on how we as a society really don't think about anything anymore especially what we consume food wise. We have become animals of habit and we are nearly automated in our choices plus we also succumb to the ever increasing advertising that we see on a daily basis without giving it a second thought. I would definitely recommend this title for anyone who is ready to become more aware about their food choices and who wishes to be proactive about living a healthier lifestyle.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • C T Jones
    2/2/10
    Overall
    "Fascinating!"

    More than just a diet book! This book will be useful for anyone who is interested in thinking about their relationahip with food. The writer discusses the findings of his extensive research in an accessible and entertaining way. There are also many useful tips you can apply.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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