You have probably heard the term mindless eating. It actually refers to findings from scientific experiments showing that people make almost 20 times more daily decision about food than they realize – approximately 250 decisions each day.
Mindless Eating suggests that a considerable part of our hunger is psychologically-driven, which leads us to be easily driven by tiny cues around us, such as family, friends, packages, names, labels, lights, colors, smells, shapes, distances, containers, cupboards, and distractions. Is it possible that we are not calibrated well enough to know when we are full or to know when we are hungry?
The gist of the study goes like this:
Endless bowl group – participants ate from a bowl that automatically refilled from the bottom. The participants did not know this was happening.
Normal bowl group – participants ate from a bowl that did not automatically refill. As they ate, they could see there was less food left on the bowl.
Those in the endless bowl group ate 73% more food until they thought they were full, compared to those in the normal bowl group. This confirmed scientific hypothesis — that our eyes are the main factors in determining when we think we are full.
Obviously, mindless eating can lead to unhealthy habits and weight gain. However, mindless eating can also be used to your favor, so that your habits become healthier.
Some easy fixes or tricks are to get smaller plates and bowls. This works great with kids too. I actually just did this with all my kiddie plastic bowls. Now with smaller bowls, I don’t hear whining complaints like “that’s all I get?” or “that’s not enough!” when I pour an appropriate amount of food into the bowl. Reducing the number of times you look at unhealthy snacks is also key. Either don’t buy them at all or keep them out of sight. You can move healthier foods to eye-level in the refrigerator or pantry. And of course, food should be eaten in the kitchen, rather than in front of the TV.
Most of us have too much chaos going on in our lives to consciously focus on every bite we eat, and then ask ourselves if we’re full. The secret is to change your environment so it works for you rather than against you.