Who has way too much food sitting around the house right today? Raise your hand and go “Me, me, me!”
It’s in the form of colorfully wrapped zucchini bread, warehouse club party packs of crackers, and the sugar cookies Santa left behind because there was no chocolate in them. What happens next to these foods depends on where you put them.
Within a week the Associated Press will be releasing a gonzo article telling you what you can do with all of these extras. It’s partly based on some studies an amazing buddy of mine from France (Pierre Chandon) and I did. We looked at what happens when people bring tons and tons of food home from places like Sam’s Club, Costco, and BJs.
We discovered the way you pack leftover foods and bulk-bought foods in your cupboard or fridge will trick you the next time you open it. What you see first is what you’re most likely to eat. That first food is the one you compare the others to. You see it, you skim the rest of the fridge or cupboard, and then you take it.
Unfortunately, we can’t change your instinct to grab the first food you see.
Fortunately, what we can do is to make sure this first food isn’t a plate of fudge or thumbprint cookies. You can make sure the food that’s front and center on our front shelf lines up with our New Years resolution.
Now’s the time of the year to load up that center shelf with the fruit that’s slowly withering away in the crisper, or with 10 for $10 yogurts.
As for the cookie gift bags, if you wrap them in foil and put them in the back of the fridge, they’ll still be waiting for you next year at this time.
How many food decisions do you make in a day?
Most people guess between 20 and 30. Do you want yogurt or Froot Loops? Do you want orange juice or water?
But it’s not just what we eat, it’s whether you pour a little or a lot, how much milk you pour, if you pour seconds, whether you have toast, what you put on it, whether you eat it before or after a piece of fruit, whether pour a second bowl of cereal, and so on. Many people make 20-30 food decisions simply during breakfast. Every time you look at a donut and say “No,” you’ve made a food decision.
We discovered this in a number of different ways, but one way was simply by having people walk around with one little stadium counters and click it every time they thought about food. What we’ve found is the normal weight person makes about 200 decisions about food a day. But heavy people make closer to 300 more food decisions.
The problem is that most of us aren’t really that conscious that we’re making all of these decisions, so we can easily be influenced by the size of our cereal bowl, the distance of the box from where we are sitting, what our partner is doing next to us, and what we’re reading on our phone or watching on TV.
For most of us, the solution to Mindless Eating is not mindful eating. It’s not to be aware of all 200 of these decisions. That would take most of our day. Instead, the solution is to set up our live so that these 200 decisions we make guide us to eating a little less or a little better. If the size of your cereal bowl is leading you to eat too much, it’s easier to use a smaller bowl than to repeat to yourself, “Pour less, pour less, pour less.” Using a smaller bowl is a resolution we could all keep.
During World War II, the US was shipping its beef, pork, and lamb over to allies and to soldiers, and there was a fear that there would be a protein shortage on the home-front.
Try to convince American families to eat organ meats -- beef brains, liver, tripe (stomach), heart, kidneys, pigs feet, and other yummy bits. To determine how exactly to do this, they assembled about 150 researchers from a crazy range of social science fields to figure out the next steps (you can read the declassified "Lost Lessons" below).
One discovery was that it would be easier to convince people to rotate organ meats into their diet once a week than to ask them to do it every day. Don't do it always. Do it for variety.
The first step was to get butchers, reporters, and recipe-makers to stop calling them "organ" meats and to start calling them "variety" meats. Meats you eat to add some variety into your diet -- not because you have to.
People can adopt new foods into their diets, but a gradual approach is more likely to work than an abrupt change. Sadly, abrupt changes are usually what marketers of new products usually unsuccessfully advocate or imply.
Offer your healthy, cool new product as something they can start switching to occasionally. Nobody wants to eat beef brains every night.