March Mindless Eating Challenge

mindless eating

As I’ve posted recently on FB and IG, I picked up Dr. Brain Wansink’s book Mindless Eating:  Why We Eat More Than We Think and I absolutely loved it.  In fact, I’m now reading his second book Slim By Design.  While I cannot, in one blog, do either book any justice, suffice to say that neither book is about dieting or eliminating foods.  They are about changing our food habits based on what we’ve learned in behavioral research studies.  (I recommend reading Mindless Eating over Slim by Design, by the way.)

By and large, most people know the WHAT to eat and the WHEN to eat information.  The problem lies with the consistent APPLICATION of the advice.  Mindless Eating speaks to the heart of WHY this occurs and how we can manipulate our environment NOT OUR MACROS to lose weight easily.

Case and point:

a.  By eating on big plates we eat 20-30% MORE food without even perceiving it!

b.  When people were asked to store tempting leftovers with aluminum foil but healthy leftovers in clear containers they increased their healthy food intake mindlessly.

c.  Those people storing their candy dishes on top of their desk with no lid caused the average person to eat an extra 225 calories/day!  In sight, in mind, in mouth!!!

d.  Leaving your snack food wrappers, candy wrappers, or even chicken wing bones VISIBLE until the end of the meal/day will cause a small enough awareness of your food habits to stop you from mindlessly grabbing more.  You will see your consumption and mindlessly choose less.

e.  Our bodies do not perceive a small caloric deficit…think 100-200 calorie/day.   Beyond this, our bodies will begin to kick in hormonal responses that increase our hunger and cravings and make it near impossible to achieve what we want.  On the flip side, our bodies don’t perceive that we are overeating by these small increments either therefore leaving us perplexed as to why our jeans don’t zip up quite as easily as they did 3 months ago.

These are powerful revelations that our environment NOT our LACK OF WILL POWER has a lot to do with HOW WE EAT and HOW WE COMPLY with fat loss goals!  You might not perceive yourself as having a lot of will power but, as an adult, you are, more often than not, in charge of your environment.  Why not MANIPULATE YOUR ENVIRONMENT INSTEAD OF YOUR MACROS!


Our March Mindless Eating Challenge, deals with you taking advantage of this type of information in order find YOUR mindless fat loss habits. Picking your behaviors is obviously extremely important and I want you to THINK

1.  SMALL- no more than 3 habits, no more than 200 calorie deficit combined

2.  PERSONAL- what I pick has NOTHING to do with you

3.  REPEATABLE- i could do this the rest of my life

Our March Mindless Eating Challenge deals w/ YOU personally creating up to THREE new Food Policies and/or Food Trade-Offs and documenting your daily compliance using these calendars which you can download yourself here or pick up at Sweat this weekend.   At the end of the day you will check off if you were able to comply with each policy or trade-off.   This “journaling” serves as a daily reminder and a visual of your level of consistency.  We all would love to check off success at the end of the day!

Examples of Food Policies:

I will not drink wine Sunday-Thursday.

Store my temptations in a harder to reach cabinet

Store my temptations in opaque containers

No packaged food can be stored on kitchen counters

Slow down meal time

Pre-portion snacks according to their serving size

Only one beer in the fridge at a time.  The rest stay out of the fridge.

Examples of Food Trade-Off:

I can eat dessert tonight, if I workout in the morning

If I want popcorn at the movies then I will not order a starch at dinner

If I want chips with my lunch then I have to share them with whom I’m with.

If I eat a snack while watching television, then I must pre-portion on a plate and seal and put the box back in the pantry.

****Need the more suggestions?  Page 17 and 18 of this articles provides you w/ more!!  Click HERE.****

Here’s what my I’m working on and why

1.  Slow down when I eat- If I finish before 20 minutes, I cannot get up from the table

I am a super fast eater and I know that I don’t allow time for my brain to catch up with my stomach and perceive fullness.

2.  Pre-package my serving of nuts/nut butter

I love almond butter and while it’s a healthy snack, in the wrong portions it becomes a fat gain food.  Since reading Mindless Eating I have begun to pre-portion my 2 TB of Maple Nut Butter in the morning when I don’t crave this food and when it is taken out anyways because my daughter eats almond butter w/ her toast every morning.   I am not using any will power in the morning to not eat the entire jar.  In addition, I am also storing the nut butter out of the pantry and in another cabinet I rarely go into.  It’s just incovenient enough that it’s out of sight and out of mouth.  The 2 pre-portioned TBs are stored in the freezer b/c it’s easy access and frozen nut butter is delicious :)!  So far so good!

3.  When I snack, I must be seated at the table.

Not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I’ve developed a habit of munching while I cook or prep food.  For example, if I prepare the kids a sandwich then I have a few slices of deli meat.  It’s pure mindless eating.  I may or may not be hungry and that’s the exact type of mindless consumption that overtime will equate to an extra few pounds in a year’s worth of time.  I am aware of this habit now and I want it gone.

As we are all “stuck” at home with the beautiful snow outside, it’s a great day to sit down, enjoy some coffee, and think about what behaviors we have that cause us to work off of constant willpower vs. mindlessness.  You are looking at creating a modest 2-3lb fat loss in March but the real goal, as always, with our challenges is to spark the birth of new habits you will take with you.  If you stay consistent, by the time the pool opens you are 8-10lbs leaner without the suffering that drives people away from any overhaul or elimination style diet.  In addition, and in my opinion MOST IMPORTANTLY, you could learn how to continually and successfully create fat loss habit changes for yourself.

How can you change your environment to work FOR YOU vs. AGAINST you?  Feel free to email me ( or FB the Sweat page if you have questions or need additional suggestions!!!