Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Holiday Book Review: Brian Wansink's Slim by Design

[Full disclosure: I purchased this book myself and was not asked to write a review, but Brian did blurb for my book this past spring.]
Truth be told, I'm a long-time Brian Wansink fanboy.

For those who aren't familiar, Brian is a professor of consumer behaviour and nutritional science and he has dedicated his career to the consumer psychology of eating.

His first book for the public, Mindless Eating, is an engaging and entertaining tour of many of his various studies including the one that determined movie goers would eat more awful stale popcorn when served in a large bucket than small, the one that demonstrated the perils of eating from a bottomless soup bowl (you don't stop), and the one that determined the worst place to put your office candy.

His latest book, Slim By Design, he describes as his "magnum opus", and what it provides is a cookbook of sorts to apply the lessons he's learned in his research to re-engineer your environment such that you'll eat less without even thinking about it. It's designed not only for the individual who is hoping to rejig their own personal surroundings, but also for business owners and public health advocates who want to improve the choices of others.

Broken down by section there are recipes for restaurants, workplaces, grocery stores, schools and homes, and each comes with its own best practices check list.

When it comes to our own homes, Wansink and his team explored the kitchens of folks with and without obesity and looked for patterns. True, at this point they're primarily associations and not necessarily causal, but they're compelling. For instance Wansink noted that a kitchen's "most dangerous" food was breakfast cereal and found that,
"women who had even one box of breakfast cereal that was visible - anywhere in their kitchen - weighed 21 pounds more than their neighbour who didn't"
Interestingly the same was not found to be true for men leading Wansink to speculate that perhaps its because they're in the kitchen less frequently.

Another tidbit I found fascinating was that according to Wansink's research,
"you're three times more likely to eat the first food you see in the cupboard than the fifth"
and the same was in a sense true for fruits and vegetables where Wansink found if people moved their fruits and vegetables to the top shelf of their refrigerator, and their less healthful foods into the crisper, that after one week they reported eating nearly three times as many fruits and vegetables as the week before.

He also found that people who served from the stove or counter ate 19% less in total than those serving family style at the table.

And these are just 3 examples and easy changes of many.

Wansink's advice doesn't just stop in your kitchen as he also offers tips on how to mindlessly eat better at restaurants, how to shop in supermarkets, and how to help your kids' schools to improve their cafeterias and prime them for health.

My only quibbles are that at times the writing seemed unnecessarily cutesy, but perhaps this was intentional so as to increase the book's potential audience, and that Brian seems to have what I believe to be a non-evidence based soft spot for milk.

All in all, Slim by Design is terrific and painless resource that may well allow you, with just a little reorganization, to improve your health and reduce your weight.

If you'd like a copy, here's an Amazon Associates link to its sale page.

Bookmark and Share