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Professor Studies What Influences Our Mindless Eating Habits

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GOOD EATS #2

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — At prestigious Cornell University some students are feasting on dog food.

It’s one of a variety of experiments by professor Brian Wansink, the rest deal with people food, on what influences our eating without us even realizing.

“We think we’re master and commander of all our food decisions, but were not,” said Wansink.

So what can get people to try dog food? Apparently, the word “organic.”

“When people believed it was organic, they were much more likely to try and taste it,” Wansink said.

When it comes to regular food, they’re looking at whether seeing yourself in a mirror that makes you appear thinner, will result in you eating more. Also, they’re looking at whether using a tray that’s secretly weighted down will make you put less food on that tray.

Wansink runs the school’s food and brand lab. Based on what he’s learned, he’s written a book called, “Mindless Eating.”

“Of all the people who cycle through here, most people on average within a year end up losing 15 to 20 pounds,” said Wansink.

So how did they do it?

No Bowls On The Table
The first tip, don’t put food in serving bowls on the table; instead, make up plates in the kitchen.

“This really works for guys,” said Wansink because guys generally eat fast.

“The rest of the family eats in slow motion compared to us, so what do we do? Well, we eat seconds and thirds and fourths, just so that we have something to do,” he said.

Wansinck said men eat 29 percent less if bowls are left on the kitchen counter.

Serve Salad First
Serve salad or veggies first. That’s because, according to Wansink, we tend to eat more of whatever we start with.

“This works tremendous for kids,” Wansink said.

But if given a choice, with everything out on the table, people tend to go for meat or potatoes first.

Dim The Lights
Maybe even try candlelight.

You might not realize it, but Wansink said, “It slows you down and allows your appetite to kind of catch up with your brain.”

The result, you’ll eat less.

Avoid Loud Music
Avoid loud pop or rock music while you’re eating.

“It’s distracting and what we find is people tend to eat to the beat,” Wansink said.

He says you’ll inadvertently eat more, but with softer, soothing music, you’ll actually eat less.

Smaller Plates
Use smaller plates.

Wansink said you’ll still feel satisfied because visually the plate looks full.

Skinny Glasses
“If you want to be skinny – skinny glasses,” Wansink says.

People will stop pouring sooner with a taller, skinnier glass because it looks like there’s more there.

White Not Red
Likewise, white wine glasses can help you drink less wine. He says that’s because red wine glasses are wider at the bottom, so it takes more to make them look full.

“If you want to drink 10 percent less wine, pull out the white wine glasses and put your red wine in there,” Wansink said.

Put Your Glass On The Table
He says you’ll also pour less wine if you put the glass on the table rather than holding it in your hand.

Eye Level In The Fridge
Put the most healthful foods right at eye level in your fridge.

“You’re three times as likely to take the first thing you see,” Wansink says.

Have A Pause Point
When it comes to snacking, build in a pause point.

For example, if you go to a warehouse club and get a huge bag, divide up portions into smaller baggies so you’ll stop when the baggie is empty.

In one study, Wansink found that simply dying every seventh potato chip red gave people a visual cue that made them stop eating sooner.

TVs & Cars Are Bad
Wansink says it’s a bad idea to eat in front of the TV or in a car because you’ll just end up eating more.

At Least 6 Feet Away
Simply moving a candy bowl at least six feet away from you can make a big difference in how much you eat. Instead, put a fruit bowl front and center.

Two At A Time
Finally, if you’re at a buffet, only put two things on your plate at time.

“If I can only have two things on my plate, I’m going to take the two things I like the most,” said Wansink.

When you go back, Wansink says “You’re a little less excited, so you maybe put a little less on your plate.”

He said in the end, you’ll eat nearly 30 percent less than you would otherwise.

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