6 Week Mindless Eating Challenge: Week #2 Notes & Discussion Questions

Reading and implementing what I learned from the book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink was a real turning point in my weight loss journey.

It was the tipping point that led to achieving the peace with food I’d been seeking while maintaining the Weight Watchers goal weight I’d set back in my late 20s.

6-Week Mindless Eating Challenge Background

Now seven years later, as I settle in at the scene of this healthy exploration (Land O’ Lakes, WI), I thought it would be fun to create a 6-week Mindless Eating Challenge to help others experience what I discovered.

While Weight Watchers friendly recipes are important, they are only one part of the equation. Learning how to manage our environment and develop healthy habits are the critical elements of lasting weight loss success.

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think helped me see this.

But it’s not enough to just read a book. You have to practice what you discover. Which is what this challenge is all about.

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
~ Confucius

For this challenge, we will all read Mindless Eating and share our awarenesses and experiences. Every week for six weeks, from July 10 – August 14, we’ll read two chapters a week and share what we learn.

I’ll kick things off every Monday with a post, which will give provide participants a place to comment with their discoveries, if they’d like.

It seems like a perfect summer project: A virtual book club, but with homework 🙂

To be most effective, this challenge is best undertaken in a low key “let’s just see what we discover” manner. No pressure. No way to fail.

But it does provide a bit of accountability if you find it helpful in propelling you into action.

All you need to do to take part is buy the book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, by Brian Wansink  (or borrow it from your library).

Here’s the basic schedule:

6-Week Mindless Eating Challenge Schedule

Why Do This 6-Week Mindless Eating Challenge?
Mindless Eating Challenge Kick-Off
Week #1: July 10 – Chapters 1 & 2
Week #2: July 17 – Chapters 3 & 4
Week #3: July 24 – Chapter 5 & 6
Week #4: July 31 – Chapters 7 & 8
Week #5: August 7 – Chapters 9 & 10
Week #6: August 14 – Appendix B & Wrap-Up

Week #2: My Notes & Thoughts on Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think Chapters 3 & 4

The Bottom Line: We all consume more from big packages, whatever the product. The more food variety the more we eat. We are all subject to the “See Food” Diet. The more food we see, the more we will eat. The more convenient/easy a food is to get, the more we will eat.

Weight Loss Strategies:

Minimize your boxes and dishes.
Re-package jumbo boxes into smaller containers.
Shrink your plates, bowls and serving utensils.
Use tall slender glasses if you want to drink less.
Eat with chopsticks at Chinese restaurants
Limit the variety of food you allow yourself during any meal.
Make healthy foods easy to see and less healthy foods hard to see.
Leave serving dishes in the kitchen, not on the table where they are easy to reach.
De-convenience tempting foods. Put them in hard to reach cabinets. Hide tempting leftovers under aluminum foil in the back of the fridge.
Snack only at the bale and on a clean plate.
Don’t keep impulse foods in the house.

Notes from Chapter 3 of the Book Mindless Eating: Why You Eat More Than You think

Our huge American kitchens filled with huge packages of food are a danger to our waistline because they cause us to make bigger meals and eat more food.

People eat 20-25% more from large packages. With snacks it’s even worse. People given 1-pound bags of M&Ms ate twice as many as those given ½-pound bags.

You may save money with larger sizes, but it will cost you in excess weight.

The smaller the package, the less you make and the less you eat.

The smaller the serving dish the less you take and the less you eat.

Shrink your plates and bowls. Use an 8-inch or 9-inch plate.

Image Source: Food Psychology, Cornell University

To drink less, use tall slender glasses. You will pour 30% more into a wide glass than a tall one.

At parties on in situations with lots of food choices, never let yourself have more than two items on a plate at a time. Go back if you are still hungry, but the lack of variety will slow you down. (I needed to apply this at a recent 4th of July party where I got carried away with the dessert buffet and loaded up a plate with several options that I, of course, devoured.)

Image Source: Food Psychology, Cornell University

Notes from Chapter 4 of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

Just seeing food can lead us to want to devour it.

Candy dish experiment: secretaries with see-though candy dishes ate 77 more calories a day than those with an opaque one.

Simply thinking about food can make us hungry. Just like Pavlov’s dogs we salivate when we hear, see or smell something we associate with food.

The more you think about a food before eating it the more you are likely to eat.

The more hassle a food is to eat, the less we eat. (The Almond Experiment, Chopstick, Cafeteria Ice Cream Cooler Experiments all illustrate this.)

Here’s a video with Dr. Wansink explaining the power of clearing your counters for weight loss success:


Image Source: Food Psychology, Cornell University

Questions to Consider:

What were your biggest takeaways from Chapters 3 & 4 of Mindless Eating?
What strategies have you implemented? What have you discovered?  (We now use salad plates instead of dinner plates and small 1-cup bowls instead of the jumbo ones that came with our set of dishes.)
 Did you test out the optical drinking illusions?
Did the “See-Food” Diet inspire you to make any changes? If so, which ones? (I now keep the chips in a bag in the pantry so I don’t see them when I open the door. I’ve also cleared away all food except a fruit bowl from the kitchen counters.)

I’ll be back next week with my notes from Chapters 5 & 6.

Have a great week!


PS: If you want some support eating better and losing weight this summer, my 28-Day Smart Start Weight Loss Challenge may be just what you’re looking for! Many of the tips and suggestions are based on what I learned by applying Dr. Wansink’s Mindless Eating concepts.

This has been a wonderful challenge. Thank you for all of the support and encouragement. I have definitely made some positive changes that I plan to continue! – Bronwyn

The post 6 Week Mindless Eating Challenge: Week #2 Notes & Discussion Questions appeared first on Simple Nourished Living.

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