13 March 2009

March French Friday #2

Happy Friday to all of you gorgeous French people!  Welcome to my virtual sidewalk cafe!  Isn't it lovely outside today?  (Okay, it can be in our minds).  Even though it is still winter, the sun is shining and you can just begin to feel a change is on the way.  Spring is almost here.

Today, Tangled Noodle and I will be discussing Chapters 4, 5, and 6 from Brian Wansink's book, Mindless Eating.  As I think I said last week, this book is just PACKED with little tidbits and individual studies on eating and eating behaviors.  I will be picking a few to discuss each week, and Tangled Noodle will as well, but even with both of us discussing things from this book, there is so much to it that we cannot discuss it all.  Be sure to pick up a copy for yourself and read along with us (I found mine at the public library so you don't need to spend money to read along with me).

Speaking of reading along with me, before I get down to business, I have also, with great pause I may add, decided on the book that I will be discussing in April for French Fridays.  I have decided to review The French Don't Diet Plan by Dr. Will Clower.  I say that I chose it with great pause because one, it is a "plan", and two, I don't totally agree with everything the author endorses.  However, for those of you who are readers of my Weight Loss Weekly column, my weekly collaboration with three other bloggers trying to lose weight, you will know that I feel one of the hugest stumbling blocks to my losing weight is how fast I eat.  I think if I could just get that one thing under control, my portions would shrink by 1/3 to 1/2 naturally.  What sold me on making The French Don't Diet Plan my book for April is that it does have two tricks for eating slower that I have been trying out this week and....they have been working for me!  My portions have been shrinking and as a result, so have I!  So even though I do not agree with some of the finer points of Dr. Clower's philosophy, I feel there are lots of little tidbits that we can glean from it to help us on our own weight loss journeys.    Pick up your copy so that you can read along with me in April and let me know what you think.

Let's get back to the present though.  This week, I will be talking about two studies from Chapters 4, 5, and 6 that I find particularly useful in my own weight loss efforts.  They are:  "The See-Food Trap" and "Family, Friends, and Fat".  Let's dive in!

The See-Food Trap

Do you ever find yourself in this situation?  You have put a bowl of M & M's on the coffee table and one on a side table because you are having people over later, but as you are cleaning the house and passing the M & M's, you pop one into your mouth.  Then, you pass the table again and pop another in your mouth?  Or perhaps those stale doughnuts that are on the table in the break room just seem to find their way into your mouth when you pass by them to get your lunch from the refrigerator.  Dr. Wansink and his associates conducted a study where they gave an office building full of secretaries 30 Hershey's kisses.  To some, they gave the kisses in a clear glass candy jar, to others, they gave the kisses in an opaque candy dish with a lid that they couldn't see through.  Every evening, they would go and count how many candies the secretaries had eaten during the day.  The ones who were able to see the kisses through the clear candy dishes ate an average of 71% more candies during the day than the ones with the opaque candy dishes.  This translated to an additional 77 more calories a day.  If Dr. Wansink and his associates had continued to fill those candy dishes for a year, those secretaries with the clear candy dishes would have gained about 5 extra pounds more than the secretaries with the opaque dishes.  It seems that when food is in front of us, and we can see it, we can't help but to dip in and graze a little.  Little by little though, those extra calories here and there mean extra weight we gain without quite knowing why we've gained it!

What can we learn from this study:

Like the M & M's that we can't help but graze when they are out, we can also make healthy choices easy to graze on.  Fill that candy dish with walnuts in their shells, celery sticks, or perhaps a fruit bowl.  Better yet, if you are prone to snacking, put the food out of sight.  Out of sight, out of mind!  I use this idea to get my boys to eat more veggies.  I put a raw veggie platter on the table before dinner.  They are already in the frame of mind to eat, and end up snacking on veggies before dinner.  If they then don't touch a veggie during dinner, I know that they've still had their serving for the meal.

Question to ask yourself:

1.  What "see-food" do I have out?  If I put it completely out of sight, would it help me from snacking?  If not, what healthy choices can I have in my line of sight?

Family, Friends, and Fat

Have you ever noticed that "fat" and "thin" tend to run in families?  What I mean is, if you see people from the same family, they are all heavy, all thin, or all...whatever.  Yes, there is an argument for genetics, but how do you explain husbands and wives who are both heavy, or both thin?  This study talks about eating patterns with friends and family.  Let's say, when you are alone, you eat a certain amount.  If you were eating the same meal with one other person, the average consumption of the same meal rises 35%, with four people 75% and with seven people, about 96% more.  We tend to eat until everyone is finished, and we also tend to pace our eating to those around us.  Which means, we will eat faster when eating with a fast eater, and slower when eating with slow eaters.  When we eat fast, we tend to eat more before our brain registers that we are satisfied.  Also, by the time our brains get the signal that we are satisfied, we have already eaten too much!

What we can learn from this and questions to ask ourselves:

Although you can't control the speed of your family, you can control, and be very mindful of, the speed of yourself.  What are ways you can slow down the pace of the meal?  Who are you choosing to eat your midday meal with at work?  Are they fast eaters or slow eaters?  Don't continue to graze until everyone is finished.  Eat slowly, feel satisfied, then put down your fork and drink water, tea or coffee until all are finished.  This will keep you from matching other's paces and eating more than you should.

I have so enjoyed our time together in our little sidewalk cafe.  Next week, we will be discussing studies from Chapters 7, 8, and 9.  If you have enjoyed my discussion or are interested in learning more, don't forget to pop over to Tangled Noodle's discussion of the book.  While you're there, leave a comment for her (all of us so love to get comments)!  Here is a little teaser to lure you over to her lovely table.

“Who do you think has your best interests at heart – your family or your friends? According to Dr. Brian Wansink, when it comes to watching how much you eat, neither group is as reliable as you might think. Please join me at Tangled Noodle in continued discussion of the book Mindless Eating as I explore the reasons why ‘the more, the merrier’ isn’t necessarily so; how convenience and overeating can go hand in hand, and how names really can hurt you.”


Robin Sue said...

Hi Joie, great post! I try to keep almonds in a glass dish and graze on those. Yes if it were M&M's I would be in trouble. I grew up in a skinny family and were watched our portions and mom was strict about our snacks but when I got to college and no one was watching I gained weight! We try to be the skinny family and watch portions and eat balanced meals, I said we try but not always succeed there are so many tempting treats! We do tend to eat quickly, like it is some kind of competition and my children especially have an eye on the next piece. I do notice that if I eat slower the better off I am. Now if I could stope eating in the car! This is a great topic to look at. I look forward to next week.

Tangled Noodle said...

I'm happy you gave details on the studies that were conducted for these chapters - they really highlight how subconsciously our overeating can become. If I can resist buying chips, cookies or other treats, I always make sure that they are behind cupboard doors. But I did feel strongly about his ideas about group eating - if families members do tend to be the same size, I think that food choices are more of a concern (we're much more accepting of convenience, processed food for the family meal than some other cultures).

Isn't this a fun book!

Netts Nook said...

Great review of the book Joie, I think it is a never ending battle for allot of people. I have found that if I don't buy it I don't eat it. Each time I make goodies we give everything away which makes you feel so good and you don't worry about eating the goodies.Good Job.

Sophia Lee said...

interesting, though in my case I need to do the opposite since I need to GAIN weight.
but great review, I love how you get down to the details. good luck on your weighing journey !

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A very interesting post! I have no see-food at all apart from apples and I must say that I am rarely tempted even if my cupboards are filled with many delightful things.... I don't diet, but I control the quantity of food I eat and never buy junk food (everything is homemade).



Malar Gandhi said...

Great review of the book. Love it.

Kat said...

Great post, this sounds like a good book, should buy it myself. I was quite surprised about this family eating thing, I have never thought of this myself, but now after reading your post I think it's really so.
But the theory of seeing foods and eating them is definitely true for them. Another thing I've noticed with myself is the bad effect of tasting. 'Just one' doesn't seem to work with me or at least it is much harder to achieve. When I try to limit myself, then it seems easier for me not to even have one (nut, potato chip, candy).

Chef E said...

I say also Bravo to you too on a great post! My sun is always shining, and especially today!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I'm reading right along with you. This is a fabulous book and so full of good information. I see myself at every turn of the page. I'm already looking forward to next Friday.
a bientot.

Varsha Vipins said...

Nice review Joie..Just dropped in to wish you a happy weekend..!!:)

Reeni said...

I totally agree about the see-foods. It's so easy to mindlessly eat just because it's within reach. I don't have a problem with junk food because I don't really keep any in the house. My main problem is portion control and continuing to eat at meals even though I know I'm not hungry. The fat and thin doesn't hold true in my family. We have really skinny and some pleasantly plumb members.

Sarah said...

When I entertain everything is made from scratch and I really try to use fresh seasonal ingredients. I've found that my biggest downfall is in the kitchens at school, all the little bites here and there started adding up. 2 years ago I weighed 40lbs more than today. What did I do? Smaller portions, pushing away my plate when i'm done, limiting sweets ( I give them to unsupecting neighbors instead ;)) and most of all no snacking in the kitchens!!!! ( only tasting when adjusting seasonings or testing for doneness) I still have 10lbs. to go but hopefully exercise will remedy that!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

My husband & I decided that the canned peanuts had to go in favor of the nuts in the shell. Shells slow down how fast you can eat them.

Jo said...

Great review and findings. I can savely say that even though I have "see food", I'm one of those who do not snack. So a bag of chips can be sitting in my cupboard for months on end. It usually ends up in my hubby's tummy.

Laura in Paris said...

No, Joie de vivre, I never put a bowl of M & M's on a bowl when I have people over - not even children that is. If it is teatime, scones or a gateau is better, if it is before the meal, I do a few "canapes" with tapenade on ...

Trish said...

Wow...Great Post. I enjoyed the good read! I had to skim over it as I am rushing out the door to work....but I will return. I wanted to ask you if you minded if I put you as a 'link' on my sidebar on my blog. Come by and visit if you wish and then let me know. Thanks....I love your blog.


grace said...

stellar post, joie! i tend to eat whenever i'm bored, so i do my darnedest to stay busy. i think your words about this book and the issue at hand are so useful--keep it coming!

Alicia Foodycat said...

The see-food thing is so true! We haven't finished that pack of Tim Tams (8 biscuits, 2 people) even though it has been open a week because it is in the "chocolate cupboard" where we can't see it!

Spring Girl said...

I love the idea of putting out a plate of veggies to snack on before dinner! Will try this on my husband. But I think it should apply to dinner parties as well. A friend used to do it and I always thought it was too healthy and boring. I've only recently realised the value of it, especially when you find yourself dining at friends and families places sometimes 2-3 times over one weekend.

Tina said...

The French Don't Diet Plan was a good book for our family. Like you, I don't agree with ALL Will Clower says, but it helped us get on a "French Plan" and we did lose weight.

Now the cholesterol is higher and I am working on that but overall, a pretty good book. Please check out his lasagna recipe! It's great.

I did not like his second book by the way.