Mindless Eating

This week I have a book recommendation for you all: Mindless Eating, written by Brian Wansink, Ph.D.  On the cover of the book is a picture of a plate, with the words inscribed on it that read: Why We Eat More Than We Think.  Beside this plate there is a pitchfork and a shovel, mimicking a fork and a knife.  This image summarizes the point of the book and the thesis of Dr. Wansink effectively.  In fact, he believes that food is no longer consumed out of enjoyment, rather it is eaten mindlessly and shoveled in without much thought.  Therefore, the result of mindless eating is the obesity epidemic that our country is currently facing, as well as the overall disconnect that many have as to where their food comes from.  In general, few people think about how what they eat and how much they eat impacts the economy, the processed food industry, and American farms (Wansink).

The book is divided into ten chapters.  One of the chapters that stands out to me is the Chapter 6, entitled “The Name Game.”  In this chapter, Dr. Wansink recounts a story about a World War Two Navy cook.  This man, Billy, was responsible for running the navy kitchen, and he also had to order adequate amounts of food that would keep until the next opportunity to stock up.  One day, Billy made a mistake in the ordering process, and found himself with twice the amount of lemon Jell-O than he actually needed, yet no cherry Jell-O.  This was a problem, because the latter type of Jell-O was more popular among the sailors.  Much to Billy’s chagrin, the sailors began to get agitated and frustrated over this missing staple, and Billy’s mistake was definitely being noticed.  In an attempt to fix his mistake, Billy colored the lemon Jello-O with red food coloring prior to serving it to the sailors.  The result?  Fortunately for Billy, the sailors didn’t recognize the difference in taste: their eyes saw cherry Jell-O, so that is what subconsciously they told their minds they were eating.  As a result, Billy received many compliments, and even after serving his red colored Jell-O again twice more, his secret hadn’t been uncovered (Wansink, 120-122).

This story demonstrates a phenomenon called “confirmation bias” where we literally taste whatever our brain has decided is in front of us.  In this case, our imagination drives much of how we taste food (Wansink, 122).  Similarly to this story, the remainder of the book dives into the psychology behind our eating habits and patterns.  Dr. Wansink explains that what and how much we eat is a direct result of how our brain has perceived this food to be like, taste like, smell like, etc (Wansink).  For sure, it’s an interesting read that will definitely open your eyes to plight that is mindless eating.

Has anyone read this book yet?  If so, how did you like it?  What stood out to you?

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Wansink, Brian. Mindless Eating. New York: Bantam Dell, 2006. Print.


There Are AWESOME People in the World!

Meet Dan Napierski, the founder/creator of Phfeast Incorporated, an entrepreneurial pursuit which uses customer loyalty programs to make free restaurant meals available to the hungry in the Boston area.  He created the company after attending a local food drive where he saw great need firsthand.  While driving home from the food drive, he had a sort of “lightbulb moment” where he realized that the rewards earned by customers through loyalty programs at restaurants could be used for the greater good.  With the knowledge that over 200,000 children in Massachusetts  alone are fighting hunger, Mr. Napierski remembered, “Seeing how many kids in Massachusetts are facing food insecurity, I just had this revelation that restaurants have the capacity to feed more people. They can’t just give away free food to everyone, because they need to stay in business. But to the extent that they can give away free food through their loyalty program, why not give those free meals to people who could really use them?”  With this, Phfeast Inc. was born (the play on words comes from a combination of two words: “philosophy” and “food”).  In order to start the company, Mr. Napierski pursued a Kickstarter Campaign of publicity and communication to the Boston area.  Also, he was aided by the Venture Development Center at the University of Massachusetts and was able to team food pantries up with various dining establishments (Pineo).

Here are the easy steps to sign-up for a Phfeast Inc. account and start earning free meals for the hungry in your community (Phfeast):

1.  Create a Phfeast account by registering with http://www.phfeast.com

2.  While dining out, check-in with your account.  The more check-ins you acquire, the more free meals the hungry in your community will receive!

3.  Just to keep in mind, on the Phfeast website, it says that you can also log-in using Facebook or Google Plus for extra points (and you’ll have less passwords, etc. to keep track of!)

One of the awesome aspects of this company is that it promotes the dignity and privacy of all people.  Pastoral Minister of Social Justice at the Paulist Center in Boston, Susan Rutkowski states that “I think it’s a very dignified way for people to be able to eat a healthy, hot meal. They don’t need to stand in line at a soup kitchen to get a hot meal. They can walk up to a food vendor just like anyone would and order lunch, and offer their card, and receive their food, and go enjoy their meal in a dignified fashion” (Pineo).

Have you ever heard of Phfeast before?  If not, are you interested in signing up?

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Phfeast. n.d. Phfeast Incorporated, 2014. Web. 14 Oct. 2014. <https://www.phfeast.com/Home/About>

Pineo, Chris. “Reward program helps diners feed the hungry.” The Pilot Oct. 2014: Local. Pilot Media Group. Web. 14 Oct. 2014. <http://www.thebostonpilot.com/article.asp?ID=172234>

Snacking Survey

Surprisingly, the global industry of snacking is worth approximately $375 BILLION.  Even more surprisingly is that this value continues to increase at approximately 2% each year, and given the fluctuating status of our world economy, this figure is pretty staggering.  A recently published Nielsen Global Survey of Snacking has reported that more than 90% of its 30,000 participants indulge in a snack at least once a day, while a little more than 1/5 of the participants snacked three to four times daily.  Interestingly, an overwhelming number of the participants who snacked three to four times daily were women.  This survey went on to conclude that snacks as meal replacements are becoming more and more popular across the globe.  Around the world, around half of the participants in this survey replaced either breakfast, lunch, or dinner with a snack.  As a result, the researchers of this survey have hypothesized that in the future, major food manufacturing companies will be placing a larger emphasis on the convenience and accessibility of their food products (Horovitz).

In terms of the nutritional value of the snacks being consumed, the United States snacks are notoriously less healthy when compared to other areas of the world.  In the past month, approximately 60% of Americans have eaten some sort of chip or crisp snack product.  Chocolate at 59% and cheese at 58% ranked second and third respectively as Americans most popular snack options.  Throughout the world, chocolate is the most popular snack, however, fruit and vegetables are the second and third most popular options.  Only in America are salty or savory snacks on high demand… in the remaining parts of the world, people desire some sort of crispy snack (Horovitz).

What’s your favorite snack?  Do you use snacks as meal replacements?

Until Next Week… Plan Well, Pack Well, Live Well,

Katie 🙂

Works Cited

Horovitz, Bruce. “Americans snack differently than other nations.” USA Today. 29 September 2014: Web. 7 October 2014. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/09/29/snacking-consumer-eating-habits-nielsen/16263375/>