2007_05_mindless.jpgThere's a fun column by the NY Times' David Leonhardt today. Leonhardt loved the book Mindless Eating, by Brian Wansink, an economics professor at Cornell who conducted a number of experiments that show people don't really think when they eat. For instance, give people a huge bucket of stale popcorn and they'll eat more of it than those who got smaller buckets of the same stale stuff. Hence the connection to behavioral economics, which tries to understand the wild card factor of humans in the context of market decisions. It also reminded us of a point from Super Size Me - bigger options just made us fatter.

Leonhardt writes:

After reading the first few chapters of “Mindless Eating,” I called Mr. Wansink, an energetic 46-year-old Iowan, to talk about his research. As luck would have it, he said that he was coming to New York a few days later to give a speech. In a flash of masochism, I then asked if he would be willing to stop by my apartment and tell me everything that was wrong with my kitchen.

“That’d be so cool!” he replied.

Leonhardt's pantry got high marks for all the cooking ingredients, but the glass cabinets were bad, since the foods behind them beckon to people passing through the kitchen. Also, his nearly 12" plates are too big and encourage piling up more food (one of his readers suggest that he buy the 9" Ikea Motto plate.) Leonhardt provides some tips from the book, like moving healthier foods in your fridge up and putting things like sodas in the back.

The Mindless Eating website has lots of tips and suggestions, plus an excerpt from the book.