3 Weight Loss Ideas from Mindless Eating
Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think is one of the most fascinating books around today and could literally change your life forever.
A couple months ago I read this book, written by food psychologist Brian Wansink, and I found a few great insights to share with you. I’d highly suggest you read the book yourself (It is filled with intriguing studies he has done and is really quite funny and entertaining) but until then take a look at the 3 best weight loss ideas from the book.
1. The Mindless Margin
Wansink talks about the concept of this mindless margin throughout the book. This is the idea that a small amount of calories, 100-200 calories let’s just say, leads to you either slowly gaining weight or slowly losing weight.
To use this mindless margin to help you lose weight Wansink suggests picking three daily 100 calorie changes you can make to help you gradually lose weight over time. These three changes could be a variety of things (Using smaller plates, dishing up 20% less food each meal, stopping your eating when you are “no longer hungry” rather than when you are “full”), but to have success make a checklist to use each day to mark that you have done them. Just know this, these habits changes should be small things that you can easily do.
While I agree that people who want to accomplish anything should focus on habit change I would say that you’ll have more success if you focus on one habit at a time. It doesn’t necessarily have to be one of the examples I gave, but the smaller of amount of habits you have to focus on the more likely it is that you’ll stick to each one.
2. Mindless Better Eating
There are certain “danger zones” when it comes to eating – meals, snacks, parties, restaurants, and your desk or work station. Wansink mentions that by changing the small behaviors associated with each of these situations you’ll be able to go from mindlessly overeating to mindless better eating. How do you do so? Take a look at some of his suggestions:
- Preplate the high-calorie foods in the kitchen and leave the leftovers there
- Eat slower so you can actually feel when you are no longer hungry
- Avoid having too many foods on the table (You’ll eat more if you have more food options available – he did studies, it’s legit)
- Fill half your plate with veggies (They’re good for you, aren’t many calories, and will limit the amount of carb dense foods you’ll eat)
- Put unhealthy foods in the back of the fridge or cupboard
- Only eat at the table (Not over the sink or standing in front of the fridge)
- When you have a junk food craving try substituting fruit or cut up veggies (Hey, you have to try something!)
- Keep junk food out of sight and out of mind
- Only put 2 items on your plate at a time
- Fill up on healthy foods first
- Put food down when you are having a conversation (You’ll focus on the conversation and won’t eat as much)
- If you constantly indulge, limit yourself to two of the following: an appetizer, a drink, or a dessert. Remember, you are trying to eat less. If you don’t usually eat these things then this isn’t an invitation to start having them 🙂
- Take half of your entree home with you
- Be the last one to start eating and eat next to the slowest eater to slow down your pace (Which will help you realize quicker when you are no longer hungry).
- Desk or Work Stations
- If you always eat at your desk, pack a lunch
- If you have a fridge by your desk or in your lunchroom pack it with high protein snacks (Like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and cans or packets of salmon or tuna).
- Replace every other soft drink with water (Or all of them if you can – drinking your calories makes it difficult to decrease the amount you are consuming)
Do I think every single one of these strategies will work for everyone? No way. However, I do think that anyone can find a few of these strategies that will work for them. Read the book to find out even more strategies you can use.
3. Mindful Re-engineering.
There are two things Wansink suggests to do in order to re-engineer your mindless margin:
- Food Trade-Offs
- Food Policies
Food trade-offs are simply when you say “I can eat x if I do y.” Pretty basic. With this logic you aren’t depriving yourself of foods, but they come at a price. Now the issue I have with this is people bending the rules and making it really easy. You can’t say “I’ll do 1 push up and then I can eat as much cake as I want” – that type of thing obviously won’t work. However, I do like this idea, especially for those people who really have a problem controlling what they eat.
To put the food trade-off concept in action you could say “I’ll only have dessert if I exercised that day” or “I can have dessert if I eat 4 servings of veggies.” I think you get the idea.
Food policies are where you make concrete rules with different habits – different from food trade-offs. This would be something like saying “I can only have dessert on the weekend” or “I’ll dish up 20% less food each meal” or “I won’t have any snacks at my desk.” These are rules that will guide you in consuming less food.
I also think food policies are a good concept to follow because of this: they don’t allow wiggle room. Food policies make it pretty clear what you can and can’t do and for that reason I’m a fan.
In the book, Wansink only addresses food and eating habits, but he skips a crucial component of weight loss: exercise. Exercising, in conjunction with improved eating habits, will help you lose weight much faster.
I wrote a rather in-depth post about exercise for beginners to give you an idea of what you should be doing if you are new to the whole exercise thing – check it out if you want to know the basics to help you lose weight.
To take action today, pick some of the strategies outlined above and try them out! Everybody is unique and so different weight loss strategies will work for different people, but see what works best for you.
If this all seems too complicated for you then contact me so we can work together to help you lose weight, have more energy, and dominate your life – you know, no big deal or anything 😉