Over 220 Food Decisions Each Day?

Have you ever given thought that what you eat and how much can add up to over 220 food decisions a day?  That’s a whole lot of mindfulness that may be anything but

Brian Wansink, professor at Cornell University and author of Mindless Eating:  Why We Eat More Than We Think details in his book how most of us can operate in mindless mode, eating much larger portions of food than we are aware of.

“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,” states Wansink.

Environmental Cues:  His studies show how bigger bowls and larger plates can cause as much as 31% increase in size of a meal.  Most of the subjects had no awareness of how the size cues of bowls and dishes were influencing the amount of food they were taking in and attributed the change to levels of hunger rather than the cue.

Pure Habit:  Our brains are powerful in determining our food purchases, and how much we consume.  Professors Adamowicz and Joffre from the University of Alberta, Canada and University of Technology, Australia respectively wrote a long but interesting research paper on food choices and discuss how habitual patterns primarily influence consumer purchases – defaulting to what we know, what we always purchased, etc. rather than choice.

Robert J. Seeley, professor and associate director at the Obesity Research Center at the University of Cincinnati states:

“Individuals match intake to expenditure in a most accurate way (within 11 calories per day or 1 potato chip).  We cannot do this cognitively so there is an enormous amount of biology in this matching which has to come from the brain.”

Food Cues:  Are there chips and packaged snacks readily available at your home or work place?  If they are, it’s very easy to default to consuming them, and eating an entire package is easy which can add up to many “serving” sizes posted on the label.

One of the things I discuss with clients is – if it’s not there, you are less likely to seek it out and eat it.

Many times you cannot control what is in your work environment but you can control having healthy snacks around to make it less likely you will default to what is there.

And what is in you home environment is within your control.  Having snacks of fruits/veggies already cut up, varieties of nuts and seeds, European cheese, Greek yogurt, natural nut butters, etc. available can help with defaulting to processed packaged foods, desserts, etc.

So what can we do, especially if many of our food decisions are brain based?

Being mindful and conscious is the key so your biology and brain don’t take over leading to unnecessary weight and health issues.  Make those 220 food decisions mindful for 4-6 weeks and when they are habit, then let your brain take over but remember you are the master of your brain and the power you exert can be the key to your health and happiness!