Smart Guy gifted me with this book, which he is also reading, and I'm absolutely astounded with what I am discovering about food and dieting. This cartoon illustrates the story of Brian Wansink's (the author of the book) research on why we eat more or less than we think we do. One of the studies he conducted involved college students who were seated at a table of four diners, but two of the 18-ounce bowls (which they agreed not to touch) were rigged with a hidden tube that kept the bowls filling back up. Although they didn't reach the original full mark, I'll let Wansink tell you what happened (p. 30):
People eating out of the normal soup bowls ate about 9 ounces of soup. This is just a little less than the size of a nondiluted Campbell's soup can (10.5 ounces). They thought they had eaten about 123 calories of soup, but, in fact, they had eaten 155. People eating out of the bottomless soup bowls ate and ate and ate. Most were still eating when we stopped them, 20 minutes after they began. The typical person ate around 15 ounces, but others ate more than a quart -- more than a quart! When one of these people was asked to comment on the soup, his reply was, "It's pretty good, and it's pretty filling." Sure it is. He had eaten almost three times as much as the guy sitting next to him.The interesting thing to me is that most people didn't comment about feeling especially full, since they thought they had only consumed about a half bowl of soup. They had 62 people conduct this experiment, and every single one consistently underestimated the calories and the amount they had eaten. What he points out is that the visual cues we use to tell us when we are full are every bit as important to satiation as the actual amount we consume.
I'm in the middle of the book right now, but the main premise that I am excited about putting into practice is to find those mindless calories that I can stop consuming every day, thereby not needing to continue to diet to keep those favorite jeans fitting just right. He says that 100-200 calories every day can be cut out of one's daily diet without even noticing, using his techniques. This adds up to about ten pounds by the end of a year, but if I increase by the same number of calories every day, then I'll have gained that amount in a year's time. Slow but steady, either direction.
It took me those two months of measuring and calculating to find out how many calories I was actually eating. Now I know what 1800 calories looks like in the kinds of food I usually consume. I will continue to skip avocados and cheese, snack crackers and other kinds of comfort food that were way too available all day long in Texas with my family.
Now that I've lost most of the weight I originally wanted to lose, I think I'll try this method of weight maintenance and eventual loss to see if it works. I'll also continue to monitor my progress with the scales, since I finally broke the barrier that kept me from stepping on them and don't want to backslide. The link in the first paragraph takes you to information about the book, the author, and the entire premise behind why we eat more than we think we do.