'Mindless Eating' is a nourishing read

Mindless Eating may be the most nourishing book you read all year. It is full of tasty morsels dipped in a rich, creamy, sometimes sarcastic sauce of humor, spiced with common sense and reachable goals.

The author of this Bantam Books banquet, Brian Wansink, is director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Laboratory. He also is an eater, he readily admits--of everything from French fries to fine French cuisine. He is as apt to give in to the lures of the palate as the next guy. But unlike the next guy, his years of research at Cornell, and at a similar University of Illinois lab he founded earlier, gave him some clues to ways we can continue to munch and still lose weight.

Unlike the typical "diet book," his volume has a healthy serving of sanity. On his way to getting a Ph.D. at Stanford and lecturing worldwide, he admits to having yielded to temptation as his TKE fraternity brothers at Wayne State College in Nebraska watched him down the usual undergraduate servings of noodles, beer, snacks, or anything free put in front of his mouth. Many of his experiments involve graduate students, always ready to stuff themselves in the name of science.

From them, and other researchers whom he credits often,, he has learned that we are influenced by the size of plates (they are larger today, so we think we have to fill them up). Packages make a difference, too. A large bag of corn chips in front of us means we will consume more; so why don't we try smaller bags" We may not eat much of the fried chicken in an ordinary restaurant, he suggests, but make it a place with reservations, a tablecloth, background music and a menu title like "Grandma's Special Recipe Southern-Style Chicken a la Brian" and we will fall for it like a ton of Twinkies. We tend to eat more than we think we do, he says, thanks to larger portions, packaging, advertising and fancy names.

Price plays a role, too. As an impovershed student, he once tried to convince a d

Contact: Sandra Cuellar/Jack Kennedy
Cornell Food & Brand Lab

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