A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Brian Wansink is a fun-to-read writer and a leading expert on eating behavior. Currently teaching at Cornell, he and his team conduct fascinating experiments that shed light on how people behave relative to food, including what outside factors cause people to eat more or less. In 2006 he published a terrific book called Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think in which, based on research, he explained how such basic things as the size of your plate can affect how much you consume. His premise in both books is that, instead of trying to control our weight by struggling to deny ourselves the foods we crave, we can change our environment in ways that will cause us to eat healthier without even thinking about it. What could be better?
In Slim by Design, Wansink examines what he calls our “food radius” – the places where most people purchase, prepare and consume their food. This includes the home, grocery store, work place, restaurants, and school lunchroom. He addresses each of these places, sharing what his team has discovered about the (usually unconscious) ways slim people behave, versus how overweight people behave with regard to food. In his opening example, he describes their observations at an all-you-can-eat buffet, where they discovered that slim people tend to sit farther away from the buffet tables than overweight people, and they walk around the buffet first to identify their favorites before they start to fill their plates. Obese people, on the other hand, go straight to the plates and start loading up, and sit close to the serving line. So by following Wansink’s advice, sitting farther from the buffet and checking things out first, you may be able to train yourself not to pig out so much.
The book is packed with similar interesting and useful tidbits. I can tell you right now that one of the main tips for home is to put a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter, and remove the snacks from view. (You don’t have to throw them out, just put them away.) And come home through the front door. The book is laid out in an easy-to-read, magazine-like format with a chapter on each food environment, and offers a questionnaire that you can fill out for each, to identify where improvements could be made.
Anyone who wants to eat healthier would enjoy this book. Imagine losing weight by just moving a few things around!
Review by Nancy