The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 951: Why We Eat More Than We Think (Archive)

Brian Wansink tells us about the subtle cues that explain why we eat more than we intend to, and why we don't evaluate how much we've eaten accurately.
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Why We Eat More Than We Think (Archive)

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Does your mood affect how much you eat? While serious depression or anxiety are known to change appetite, even milder changes in mood can have surprising effects. You might be surprised to learn that food rituals, such as saying grace, can also alter our eating behavior. Expressing gratitude before starting a meal helps people moderate their intake and makes the dinner conversation more pleasant as well.

Why We Eat More Than We Imagine:

Studying the impact of environmental cues on how much we eat shows us how we could change some of those factors to achieve healthier eating patterns. How could choosing low-fat snacks get you into trouble? How do you know when you are done with dinner? Learn about tricks you can use to stop eating-even if the table (or your plate) still has food on it. Using this research, we could all help ourselves eat better and become slimmer and healthier.

This Week’s Guest:

Brian Wansink, PhD, is the John S. Dyson professor of applied economics at Cornell University and Director of the famous Cornell Food and Brand lab. He is author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. His most recent book is Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life. His websites are:

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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what is this “we” stuff? My BMI is 22 and at age 63 am more muscular than most because of farm work. I eat plenty of fat but always fat which is fully metabolizable. Salut.

I’ve been on a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet for about 15 years. It’s the refined carbohydrates that drive hunger. I eat one large lunchtime meal and I’m good until the next day. You really can’t overeat if you just eat meat and/or non-starchy vegetables.

I stopped eating sugar some 15 years ago, not because I made a decision, but because I noticed that my tongue wanted a cookie but my stomach didn’t. I listened to my stomach, and have continued to do so. Our bodies will tell us a lot, if we heighten our awareness.

Gratitude + brevity = table grace: Host hands speaker one lighted match. Amazing how well talker [and watchers!] can focus! Learned from a rabbi with an expansive group of compulsive communicators

Thank you for the show. It was helpful. I get the dark chocolate bar at work an intend to eat only two of the squares at one sitting but fail miserably every time. I now know to get up and get up and go do something to get me away from the confection.

Love your show but a bit disappointed that after hearing the repeat today there is no way to listen to the podcast without buying it.

Thanks for your interest David! All of our shows are available as podcasts (for free!) on the Monday following the broadcast date. Please check back on Monday, November 30th, and you should be able to download this show with no trouble. After 4 weeks we do charge a small fee for downloads.

I really liked this show and found so many good tips that I had not heard a dozen times from other sources. The one minor issue I had is that I feel like he was a little patronizing/condescending in his talk and tone about people that are “bummed out”.

When we moved to a retirement center we found desserts were the first thing we saw on the buffet line. Knowing this would be a trap, I decided that I’d allow myself one dessert a week. Then if something special came up, I was free to make it my “one big one!” Otherwise you find yourself thinking, “is this worth my dessert this week?” and realizing it really isn’t. This approach I find freeing, cause it keeps me from mindless eating sugars, but knowing if there’s something special, like strawberry shortcake, that’s OK.

Hi, One item you didn’t touch on in your broadcast is that starch conversion to sugar to fat is another problem to losing weight. There are people who lack the alpha-amylase enzyme ptylin(sp) in their saliva and can eat huge portions without getting over-weight. White beans Canelli albias, maybe Navy beans too block alpha-amylase and prevent conversion of starch to sugar. This idea should be great for weight loss for those people over-weight. It’s not practiced. Are there studies that include ptylin blockers in weight loss programs?

I thought the show was very good overall, and I have enjoyed reading Dr. Wansink’s book recently so the show was well timed.
My only criticism was the “bumbling idiot” tone that Dr. Wansink took on when describing how people think when mindlessly overeating. I presume he meant to be funny, but his message came across as demeaning when he spoke in this way.
Keep spreading the good word, Dr. Just don’t assume we are dumb!

Just happened to catch your show this morning and wow, very informational! Very interesting research as well as practical!
Thank you! I intend to try some of his suggestions.

WOW! What a terrific program Prof. Wansink gave you. Neat guy. Neat research. Practical results you can use. Wish he were my neighbor.

I’m wondering if your guest has heard of the book “Nourishing Traditions”? It’s a philosophy of eating/food preparation that is ancient, and argues that our modern low-fat diet is actually harmful to our human bodies. We NEED good fats found in broths, fish oils, etc; it’s actually sugar and processed foods that are making us unhealthy.
What does your guest think?

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