Brian Wansink is considered the master of mindful eating. As a professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University, Wansink and his colleague Mitsuru Shimizu trained and led a team of 30 observers to study the habits of more than 300 men and women in 24 all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant buffets and record six specific activities.
Based on the observations, the team concluded that diners with a high Body Mass Index served themselves before surveying all available foods, used large plates, sat facing the buffet and used standard utensils instead of chopsticks.
Accordingly, to enjoy the buffets and still maintain a healthy weight, follow these four tips:
1. Survey the entire buffet before you begin to serve yourself.
2. Put your food on small plates rather than on large.
3. Choose a seat that faces away from the buffet area.
4. At Asian buffets, opt for chop sticks rather than knives and forks.
The body of Wansink’s research reveals how behavior and perception influence when, where and how much we eat.
Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and her ream of dietitians focus on four areas that shape eating behavior:
People For some, eating with friends, eating alone or watching others eat are prompts to eat more.
Emotions Being bored, sad, nervous, anxious or depressed can trigger eating more. (So can feeling happy.)
Danger zones Movie theaters, vending machine locations, a comfy chair watching TV and being in grocery stores, especially those that circulate aromas from the bakery or kitchen, are all invitations to overindulge.
Activities Parties, celebrations, shopping in a supermarket or preparing food in your own kitchen can override will power.
Source: Harvard Medical School Healthbeat, April 18, 2013 Study published in American Journal of Preventive Medicine, April 2013