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More Mindless Eating

August 11, 2010 - Kathie Evanoff

A few years ago, I read a book by Brian Wansink called “Mindless Eating.”

In the book, Wansink explained that we often eat more than we should without giving it a second thought or even realizing what we’re doing. For example, people given a certain amount of popcorn in a theater would be perfectly content with what they are given, but if we’re given a larger amount, we’ll continue to eat more than  we should, simple because it was put in front of us. We don’t think about the added calories, sodium and fat from the fake buttery-like syrup poured over top.

A similar concept was outlined by Michael Pollan in his book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” when he explained how McDonald’s Restaurants increased its sales by adding supersizes to the menu. The explanation was that when given smaller packages of french fries, people would eat them and be satisfied, but by increasing the size and changing a bit more (potatoes are cheap), people would eat more.

The more we eat, the more money the big corporations rake in. It’s no wonder we’re getting bigger and bigger ourselves.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, or CSPI, recently had information on its website, www.cspinet.org, , comparing the 10 best and worst foods.
We all know what’s good for us. We know we should stay away from greasy cheeseburger meals in favor of green, leafy salads and vinegar-based dressings. We know we should avoid sugar-laden fruit smoothies and instead fill our Sigg bottles with water or green tea.

It’s all good in theory, but our lifestyles choose otherwise. How much quicker and easier is it to buzz by the drive-through window than to take time not only to shop for fresh food but also to stand in the kitchen chopping vegetables? How easy is it to work exercise and healthy eating into a day already filled with busy work schedules and taking care of our families?

Maybe try thinking about it in a different way.

For example, the CSPI website article stated that having a Cold Stone fudge milkshake was the equivalent of eating two 16-ounce steaks along with a baked potato slathered in butter. The comparison was in the calories and fat grams. You could ask yourself, which would I rather have, the steak or the milkshake? And if you only had one steak and put yogurt or light-butter spread on your potato, you would still be getting less than the milkshake.

Yesterday I wondered what I could have for lunch that would be healthy, not fast food, but quick. I didn’t have time to make something at home to bring and since I was lacking in grocery shopping last weekend, there wasn’t much to choose anyway, but I did have a leftover grilled, boneless and skinless chicken breast in the fridge. A local fast food restaurant has small salads on their dollar menu. For $2, I bought two salads along with low-fat Italian dressing, heated the chicken breast, which I tore into small pieces, and dumped it all into a large bowl.

I had at least three servings of vegetables and a protein, with just enough fat in the dressing to keep me satisfied until dinner. I even brought along a fruit cup for a mid-afternoon snack, but found I didn’t really want it.

Healthier choices are there. We just have to make up our minds to make those choices and not always settle for what’s fast and easy.

 
 

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