Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Mindless Autopilot' Drives People To Underestimate Food Decisions

Date:
December 26, 2006
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
People estimate that they make about 15 food- and beverage-related decisions each day. But the truth is, they make more than 15 times that -- more than 200 such decisions, finds Cornell researchers Brian Wansink and Jeffery Sobal.

People estimate that, on average, they make about 15 food- and beverage-related decisions each day. But the truth is, they make more than 15 times that -- more than 200 such decisions.

Related Articles


Commenting on his new Cornell study, Brian Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing and of Applied Economics at Cornell, observed, "So many food decisions are made on mindless autopilot." The problem with making so many more food decisions than we are aware of, he said, is that "each of these small decisions is a point where a person can be unknowingly influenced by environmental cues."

When Wansink and Jeffery Sobal, Cornell professor or nutritional sciences, asked 139 university staff and students to estimate how many decisions they make about food each day, the average response was 15. However, when the volunteers then answered specific questions about when, what, how much and where they ate and who made decisions about meals, snacks and beverages, the researchers found that the staffers and students actually made an average of 221 food-related decisions each day.

The study is published in the January issue of Environment and Behavior.

"It's really easier than we think to let small things around us -- plate size, package size, people around us, distractions -- influence these 200-plus decisions because we are not aware of them in the first place," said Wansink.

"Rather than try to overly obsess about our food decisions, it's better to change the environment so that it works for us rather than against us, making it easier to make decisions to eat less," suggested Wansink.

Tips to prevent holiday overeating

To turn things around after a season of mindless eating and prepare for those New Year's resolutions, Wansink offers these research-based tips from his recent book, "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think" (Bantam Books):

  • Use smaller bowls: People who served themselves foods into smaller serving bowls ate almost 60 percent less than when they are served helpings in larger bowls.
  • See it before you eat it: Avoid eating directly from the package. People served a snack mix in a bowl ate 134 fewer calories than those eating straight from the bag.
  • Bank your calories: Skip the appetizers if you know you want to save room -- and enjoy -- the upcoming dessert. You'll also be more accurate at estimating the number of calories you consumed.
  • Sit next to the slowest eater at the table: Use that person as a benchmark as to how slow you should eat. Always be the last one to start eating, and set your fork down after every bite.
  • Embrace your comfort food: Don't eat around the food you really want. Just eat it in a small portion.
  • To eat less without having to think about it, use the rule of two: Pick two of the following three: appetizer, a drink or a dessert.
  • Use the "half" rule of thumb: Fill half your plate with vegetables, the other half with protein and starch.
  • Think "back": Keep tempting treats in the back of the cupboard or refrigerator wrapped in aluminum foil. Office workers ate 23 percent less candy (around 50 calories) when it was in an opaque covered candy dish than a see-through dish.
  • Always sit at least an arm's length away from a buffet table or snack bowl.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "'Mindless Autopilot' Drives People To Underestimate Food Decisions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061226095454.htm>.
Cornell University. (2006, December 26). 'Mindless Autopilot' Drives People To Underestimate Food Decisions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061226095454.htm
Cornell University. "'Mindless Autopilot' Drives People To Underestimate Food Decisions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061226095454.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

AP (Dec. 16, 2014) More departments are ordering their first responders to sit in on training sessions that focus on how to more effectively interact with those with autism spectrum disorder (Dec. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Newsy (Dec. 12, 2014) A study out of Britain suggest men are more idiotic than women based on the rate of accidental deaths and other factors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

AFP (Dec. 12, 2014) As the countdown to Christmas gets underway, so too does the Father Christmas conspiracy. But psychologists say that telling our children about Santa, flying reindeer and elves is good for their imaginations. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins