20 March 2009

March French Friday #3

Happy Friday gorgeous French people!  Today, I am feeling anything but chic!  I've caught a cold and it's just so hard to feel chic while coughing and blowing one's nose.  But despite this, spring is in the air, and so I am wearing a cute skirt from Ann Taylor Loft, a cashmere blend sweater, and a cute fitted jacket.  I'm doing my best to look cute despite the red nose!

Today, Tangled Noodle and I will be discussing Chapters 7-9 in Brian Wansink's book Mindless Eating.  Please don't forget to pop over to Tangled's discussion.  Here is a little snippet to whet your appetite.  

"The title of another well-known book says it all - men are from Mars and women are from Venus.  And this holds true even with our attitudes toward food. In Chapters 7-9 of his book Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink alludes to gender differences in our attachments to comfort foods, the influence of primary food providers on future eating habits, and the role of 'health halos' in justifying mindless overeating.  But I would like to add my own thoughts on the importance of understanding the ways men and women look at food differently and how it can impact our eating habits. So please join me for Part III of "Mindless" in Minnesota, a discussion of the book Mindless Eating, at Tangled Noodle"

As for me, I will be discussing two studies from Brian Wansink's book Mindless Eating titled, "The Nutritional Gatekeeper and the Good Cook Next Door" as well as, "The McSubway Study and Information Illusions".  Let's begin!

The Nutritional Gatekeeper and the Good Cook Next Door

Are you your family's Nutritional Gatekeeper?  This is the person who does most of the shopping as well as most of the cooking.  The nutritional gatekeeper is consciously or subconsciously in charge of 72% of the food that goes into their family's mouths.  Brian Wansink described a "pop-tart starved teenager" who if there are no pop-tarts in the house because the nutritional gatekeeper did not buy them, can no longer eat pop-tarts.  What if instead that Nutritional Gatekeeper chopped carrot sticks and put them in the front of the refrigerator.  Most likely, the teenager will not borrow the car keys to make a pop-tart run, but will instead start grazing the fridge and will happen upon the carrot sticks.

What sorts of food decisions are you making for your family?  Are they healthy choices?  Are you enabling "pop-tart decisions" by keeping these foods in the house?  You may want to provide these choices, just as long as you are mindful of your role as nutritional gatekeeper and are mindfully making these decisions.

This study also talks about 5 different types of cooks:  the giving cook, the healthy cook, the innovative cook, the methodical cook and the competitive cook.  Brian Wansink found that most cooks can be categorized neatly into one of these 5 categories.  All of the cooks helped their families eat better and more varied meals...except for one.  Can you guess which it is?  Which kind of cook are you?

From Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink:

"Giving Cooks (22 percent):  Friendly, well-liked, and enthusiastic, they specialize in comfort foods for family gatherings and large parties.  Giving cooks seldom experiment with new dishes, instead relying on traditional favorites.  The only fault of the giving cook is that they tend to provide too many home-baked goodies for their famil.

Healthy Cooks (20 percent):  Optimistic, book-loving, nature enthusiasts who are most likely to experiment with fish and with fresh ingredients, including herbs.

Innovative Cooks (19 percent):  The most creative, trend-setting of all cooks.  They seldom use recipes; they experiment with ingredients, cuisine styles, and cooking methods.

Methodical Cooks (18 percent).  Often weekend hobbyists who are talented, but who rely heavily on recipes.  Although somewhat inefficient in the kitchen, their creations always look exactly like the picture in the cookbook.

Competitive Cooks (13 percent):  The Iron Chef of the neighborhood.  Competitive cooks are dominant personalities who cook in order to impress others.  These are perfectionists who are intense in both their cooking and entertaining. "

The Giving Cook was the type of cook that did not help their families make better choices.  Because they rely so heavily on favorites, the giving cook can end up in ruts and their families tend to eat the same things over and over.  However, the giving cook is the most common type of cook.  If you are a giving cook, what are some ways you can break out of your rut?  How can you introduce your family to new foods?

The McSubway Study and Information Illusions

The last time you were in a Subway restaurant, you may have noticed how prominently they display the nutritional information of their food.  It was on my cup, my napkin, on the menu, everywhere.  It seems likely that people would then read this information and take it into account to try to make healthier choices.  Brian Wansink discovered that most people who dine at Subway, go for the higher fat, higher caloric subs because they are under the impression that everything at Subway is "healthy".  They even compensate for the healthier choices by choosing chips, cookies, or soda to go with their "healthy" sandwich.  Most people at 200 more calories than they thought they ate.  Contrast this with McDonalds where the nutritional information is very difficult to find (although it's getting easier) and where there is no impression that the food is healthy.  People still ate an average of 200 calories more than they thought (and a whole heck of a lot more than the people at Subway).  The McDonalds eaters ate those extra calories because they liked the McDonalds food, not because they were under the impression it was healthy.

Where do you fall into the "healthy" trap?  My mother in law will serve a Cobb salad for dinner (not really a low calorie dinner) as an excuse to have dessert.  It is the impression that the Cobb salad is healthy for which she compensates with the high calorie dessert.  Do you tend to overeat in situations where the food is perceived as healthier?  Do you offset the health of the food with high fat/high calorie sides?

Next week, Tangled Noodle and I will be finishing the book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink.  Also, don't forget to pick up a copy of April's French Friday book The French Don't Diet Plan by Dr. Will Clower.  See you here next week in our virtual sidewalk cafe.  A bientot!


Cathy said...

I am definitely a competitive cook. It's one of those traits....I compete in absolutely everything I do...even if it's against myself.

Tangled Noodle said...

Ack! I'm a giving cook - or at least I was. Ever since I started foodblogging, I've been trying new recipes, ingredients and cooking techniques. Now, I feel as if we are eating a little better.

My mom was our gatekeeper (as is the probably the case of nearly everyone). She was definitely the Innovative cook - as a result, we grew up exposed to all manner of foods, not only Filipino or American/Canadian. The only thing she couldn't fix was my veggie-phobia - I had to get over that one on my own as an adult. Great summary of these chapters!

I hope you will start to feel better soon. You are probably the best-dressed invalid out there today!

Chef E said...

I think the men are from mars and women are from venus held true in our house until year before last at hubby's family. He realized that I was truly bothered by all the food they always gorged on, and put his foot down with mine this past year and said 'enough' to the eating, and now is enjoying light and more meaningful meals together. The sun is out and I am going for a walk!

I thank you to Joie for your march along side Tangle and your wonderful soul's journey along side my food journey to an improved eating lifestyle!

Lori said...

Sometimes I do that. Have a salad (not Cobb though) and have a dessert. In my mind I am way better off.

It does come down to calories for me as thats how I am doing it. But the type of calories is very important!

Chef E said...

Your right, I saw that but since I posted it night before last, I was not putting two and two together!

Now off to the store for Ethiopian ingredients! We have to make the trip again and I am excited!

Pam said...

I am a gatekeeper and healthy cook. I do all the shopping and cooking. I try to use healthy and organic ingredients to feed my friends and family.

My daughter is home with a cold today too - hope you (and she) feel better soon.

Kiezie said...

Great stuff. I love the studies, it's always so enlightening to read!! I think I am a combination of many cooks! :)

Anonymous said...

This is a neat book reading to follow! I'm definitely an innovative cook, which does have its disadvantages sometimes (as in not following the recipes even in baking). We do the "healthy thing" with the salads a lot, having dessert afterward :)

Anonymous said...

I'm definitely the gatekeeper at home...but its just me and my husband. I'm sure once we have kids our eating patterns and choices will change. We currently eat dinner after 10pm every night.
We eat very healthy in general, but he is the main tester of all my baking which often means butter and sugar.

I think its a bit difficult to cook for two or one. While your firing up the oven you want to save yourself some time tomorrow and make extra but you can only eat the same thing so many times in a row.

I think I could do more experimenting with other cuisines. I never cook Thai (which we both love) and rarely Indian. I'm quite obsessed with eating things I know I cook well so I often don't experiment at dinnertime. I should probably do more experimenting with different flavors, my husband can just dump ketchup and tabasco over it if its not to his liking.

Tina said...

My mother was gate keeper and I think, absorbing it passively, that I tend to look for healthier choices. Naturally, we are attracted by the occasional piece of cheesecake or naughty dessert.
It's OK to fall off the wagon now and then :-)

Jennifer said...

You and noodle are doing an amazing job with these posts. By the way, new contest involving PEEPS on my blog.

Varsha Vipins said...

Hi Amanda..:)

happy weeekend dear..:)

Reeni said...

I'm proud to say that I am a mixture of all except methodical. Blogging has changed my cooking immensely. And my family is no longer afraid to try my new creations like they were at the beginning. I am using more fresh veggies, fruits and herbs than ever before. And I am loving these discussions, they are leaving me with a lot to think about.

Hope you feel better, I know you look fabulous!

Anonymous said...

French Fridays is such a nice idea...I think everyone should be French on Fridays! I guess, I am an Iron Chef in the making as well!! But I am concerned with nutrition in a big way, especially with my job being what it is! But try keeping me away from dessert....not possible!

Anonymous said...

I am definitely a giving cook with a touch of adventurous and creative thrown in. The biggest way I am now changing how I cook is because my husband had a heart attack and from now on we are on a low cholesterol, low fat and low sodium diet! So my adventurous side will have to get really creative and I love learning new things. Believe me, we are very mindful of what we eat now!! It takes longer to cook, but I feel good about what I'm cooking. I only wish my husband's tastebuds would catch up with mine!! I say, get 'mindful' now, don't wait!

Robin Sue said...

I am the gatekeeper at my house and if it were up to other people they would not eat a vegetable or fruit. I was not home the other night for dinner and hubby took them to McDonald's- UGH! So even though I teach healthy at home does not mean that it sinks in. I think I am the innovation cook and try to figure out nice ways to give them healthier foods! Such a challenge. Sometimes I am the giving cook-rarely just so they get a taste of some of their favorites then they will shut up and eat the good stuff when it is served to them!

Maris said...

Mindless eating? I should read that...it sounds like it could be my autobiography!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I missed being at our French Friday and all of a sudden it's Monday. This book is fabulous and really changes how we look at things. I am the gate keeper and now I'll think twice in planning meals. I don't think I thought eating at Subway was healthier but maybe somewhere in the back of my mind their commercials of being healthier tricked me. This book is changing my life. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.