The Anti-Diet Diet
By Stett Holbrook
'I'VE NEVER been on a diet, unless you count the week I ate nothing but barbecued ribs and brisket a diet. But if I ever feel the need to lighten up, I'm going straight to Brian Wansink's great new book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think (Bantam; 288 pages; $25 cloth). I interviewed Wansink last year for a story I wrote on food phobias. He's a professor of marketing and nutritional science at Cornell University, where he conducts fascinating research on eating behavior at the school's "food and brand lab."
Mindless Eating is probably not going to make him popular with the peddlers of the latest fad diets or America's supersized food industry, because it lays bare many of the tricks the food industry plays on us to get us to eat more, and the flaws in many popular diets. It also highlights the tricks our minds play on us that lead to overeating.
What kind of tricks?
All the deception, tricks and self-delusion out there can make eating well difficult. But Wansink says rigid diets or laborious calorie counting are not the answer. We just need to open our eyes, become more mindful of what we eat and make small adjustments in diet. Without sacrificing or forbidding ourselves to eat the food we love, Wansink suggests small changes like filling half your dinner plate with vegetables, buying food in smaller containers or simply eating a piece of fruit before indulging in a snack can go a long way toward more thoughtful eating—and fewer pounds.
"We may not be able to outlaw every drive-through restaurant or tax every pint of ice cream in our community, but we can re-engineer our personal food environment to help us and our families eat better," Wansink concludes.
That's a diet I could live with.
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