Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Brian Wansink is a food psychologist, an American professor, and a former Executive Director of the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. His book Mindless Eating summarizes some of his research, much of which is focused on how external cues like packaging, portion sizes, and presentation can influence how much we eat.
Published back in 2006, some of the information feels dated. For example, his work showed that eating a designated portion from a smaller plate would lead to more satisfaction than if eating the same portion from a larger plate. Might have been groundbreaking once upon a time, but not so much now.
That said, most of the book details ways in which our environment can lead to mindless overeating. From smaller plates, to smaller portion sizes, to out-of-sight-out-of-mind, he suggests that we can use what he's learned about mindless overconsumption to actually promote mindless (ie painless) calorie control.
Most of us don't eat because we are hungry, and more importantly we don't stop eating when we are full. We look to other cues to determine how much and for how long we continue to eat.
The book certainly raises awareness, though I find Wansink's assertion that cutting 100-200 calories through "mindless calorie control" might actually solve our weight problems to be somewhat naïve.
Bottom line, as a means of increasing awareness, it's a great read. We live in a day and age where the strategies we've adopted to survive, no longer serve us. Our cravings for salty, sweet, and fat, which originally kept us from starvation, are now causing us to overeat, often to the point of illness and disease. And perhaps more importantly and less obvious is the finding that the context in which we eat significantly impacts calorie consumption.
Whether you eat them alone, toss them in a salad, use them as garnish, or puree them in a smoothie, blueberries are a delicious treat. The fact that they are loaded with health promoting nutrients and phytonutrients is simply extra blueberries on the proverbial whole wheat pancake.
Considered a good or very good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Manganese and dietary fiber, blue berries are a nutritional titan. And the goodness doesn't stop there as they also contain an impressive mix of phytonutrients, including a number of carotenoids and flavonoids which are two classes of powerful compounds abundant in fruits and vegetables that are believed to protect us against disease.
A one cup serving provides 80 calories, making blueberries a nutrient dense food.
When buying fresh blueberries, avoid containers with spoiled or soft blueberries. Ideally, blueberries should be firm, have a uniform blue color, and move freely in the container when shaken gently. Blueberries with a red tinge may not be ripe and thus lacking in sweetness and nutrition. Because of their relatively short shelf-life, frozen blueberries are an excellent option, particularly if added to a baked product or a smoothie. You can also eat them frozen for a refreshing snack on a hot summer day. And because frozen fruits are generally picked at peak ripeness and immediately frozen, they contain peak nutritional value.
To maximize shelf-life, remove any soft, moldy, or spoiled berries from the container before storing in the refrigerator. On average most berries will remain fresh for approximately 3 days.