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What Impacts Your Mindless Eating Behaviors Everyday – Professor Brian Wansink Explains

 LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 27: General view of the atmosphere during M&M'S 'Party Like Diddy' Meet & Greet at the Mondrian Hotel on July 27, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for M&M'S)
Charley Gallay, Getty Images for M&M’S

Having trouble losing weight? You’ve tried to cut calories and eat healthier, but the more you think about it, you could be digging yourself a the bigger caloric hole.

That’s according to Brian Wansink, is the John Dyson Endowed Chair in the Applied Economics and Management Department at Cornell University, where he directs the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, and has authored several articles and books on eating behavior.

”We’re just a nation of mindless eaters. The typical person makes over 200 food related decision each day. Because most of these decisions are unconscious, we can be nudged by the things around us,” Wansink says.

”Over-eating creates a new normal standard for your daily consumption.

”A lot of college people, for instance, party too much. But, once they graduate, they say ‘That’s what I used to do in college. I don’t do that anymore.’ So, some norms do reset themselves,” he said.

Also, many eating behaviors are learned and begin at home.

”Typically the gatekeeper in a home is one of the parents, and that person can control about 72% of what their child eats. For instance, pack a small snack for a child instead of giving them three-bucks and saying, ‘get your own snacks’,” Wansink said.

And, the placement of food or snacks matters, he says.

”Instead of putting the food on the table, leaving it on the stove can reduce the amount of food you eat by 20%…just that difference of placing it six feet away.

”We found that if we gave people candy on their desk or six feet away, typically they consumed about 100 fewer calories per day [if it was not placed on their desk].”

When asked why they ate less, Wansink says it made people ask themselves ‘I am I really that hungry that I need to get up..” to get that snack.

Another idea, smaller plates. People tend to eat 22% more when they have a larger plate, Wansink said.

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Wansing is giving a presentation Thursday at SUNYIT in Marcy.

For more information, visit his website,

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