Friday, September 7, 2007

Review - "Mindless Eating"

The idea of 'mindless eating' (and, indeed, its subtitle) is simple - why do we eat more than we think? A phrase which can be read two ways - that we eat more than we realize, or that we actually engage in eating more than we engage in thinking. Both of which are true, of course, particularly in my case. And not to put too fine a point on it, but it's true for this entire fat country of ours.

And it's a powerful read, on some level. We talk ourself into eating way, way, WAY more than we realize, in about a thousand different ways. Some of the examples and strategies are surprising and interesting, but after a while, it becomes..."yeah, I get it. I eat too much and don't realize why that's the case or even when I’m doing it." So it starts well but tails off. Put it this way - I was happy that the footnotes were a) substantial and b) in the back of the book.

But, to hit some high points:

  • The 'mindless margin" is a key phrase. It’s that place where we feel fine, and are full, but tell ourselves that we could eat more.
  • We simply don't know the difference between 1900 calories and 2100 calories, and that's the place where weight is gained (or lost, for that matter). 3500 calories is a pound, and it doesn't matter whether those calories are consumed in one day or over a year. 10 calories a day - a stick of gum or three jelly beans - will gain you a pound.
  • On that note, making a change can be easily measured. Give up a Coke - 140 calories - a day, and you lose 14 pounds a year. That works in both directions - walking a mile is 100 calories. It takes a mile and a half to burn off a coke, and it's easier to give that up than walk for 22 minutes.
  • Great strategy - 20 percent less. Dish out 20 percent less - You probably won't miss it. And dish out 20 percent MORE veggies and fruit.
  • Most of us decide how much to eat before we open our mouth...we see it, dish it, and eat until it's gone. I TOTALLY do that. Smaller servings disappoint me when i see them, but i usually find out that they're enough. Last night was a perfect example – I was at Camilla’s house, and she made some pork chops, rice, and cantaloupe. The pork was…oh, I don’t know, four ounces? A little smaller than the palm of my hand, I guess – and it was enough. More than enough, really. I was full and satisfied.
  • The power of three - what THREE 100-calorie changes can i make that would be easiest for me to turn into positive mindfulness? Create a checklist - name them, write them down, and check them off on the days I do them. It’s much like my morning / evening list. Once is a fluke, twice is a tendency, three times is a habit.

Overall, lots of good information if a little scattered in its approach and repetitive. Three stars (out of five).

Next up – “The Lake, the River, and the Other Lake,” by Steve Amick. Ostensibly for a book group discussion this Sunday that I won’t be able to attend.

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