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Mindless Eating

Why We Eat More Than We Think

By Brian Wansink
15-minute read
Audio available
Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink

Mindless Eating explores the diverse messages and influences that constitute our eating habits, which we tend to follow “mindlessly.” It also offers practical solutions on how to exploit these subconscious influences in order help meet our health or weight-loss goals. Please note that the validity of some of the research underlying the author’s work have since been called into question.

  • Anyone who can’t manage to stick to their diet
  • Anyone who wants to make positive, healthy changes to their life
  • Anyone interested in psychology

Brian Wansink was the Professor of Consumer Behavior and Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, and Executive Director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. He has been accused of academic misconduct in his research, which led to his resignation from Cornell. Several of his research papers have since been retracted.

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Mindless Eating

Why We Eat More Than We Think

By Brian Wansink
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink
Synopsis

Mindless Eating explores the diverse messages and influences that constitute our eating habits, which we tend to follow “mindlessly.” It also offers practical solutions on how to exploit these subconscious influences in order help meet our health or weight-loss goals. Please note that the validity of some of the research underlying the author’s work have since been called into question.

Key idea 1 of 9

Restaurants and marketers can use all kinds of tricks to influence what we eat.

Do you believe that marketing and advertising have no effect on you? Say, when you’re choosing which groceries to buy? “Sure, other people may be swayed by good marketing,” you might think, “but not me!”

And although you wouldn’t be alone in this belief – almost everyone thinks they’re impervious to marketing – it turns out that, when it comes to food, there are some marketing tricks that work on everyone.

First of all, good marketing can make foods seem more appealing.

For example, it has been found that plopping positive descriptive adjectives in front of the names of dishes on restaurant menus generates more sales and greater customer satisfaction than using “boring” names.

In one experiment, a restaurant served the same menu twice, one week apart, but used different names for the same dishes, for example, “Seafood Filet” was transformed into “Succulent Italian Seafood Filet.” Patrons who’d seen the more descriptive name found the dish tastier, and felt better about the restaurant in general, despite the dish being made the exact same way.

Second, brand marketing can also influence our perception of food. For example, we often presume that recognized brands like Coca-Cola or Ben & Jerry’s will taste better than “generic” alternatives. This impression is so powerful that, although blind taste tests indicate we perceive no difference between the brand-name and generic products, we’re still willing to pay more for the brand.

Finally, we’re also affected by things like lighting, music, temperature and decor when we eat – the things we would say comprise the “atmosphere” of the meal. When lights are bright and the music has a quick tempo, we tend to eat more quickly than with slow music and dim or natural light.

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