This is a great question (and one of the subjects of Chapter 6 of Mindless Eating), but here's a quick example of how vegetables can make a meal tastier if they are served in the main dish and not off to the side.
A number of years ago I flew back for my Aunt Eileen’s 90th birthday party in Iowa. After a rousing out-of-tune rendition of “Happy Birthday,” and a round of Wal-Mart birthday cake, Aunt Eileen fell soundly asleep in her chair. It reminded me of most of my birthdays. Later that night we all had a tuna casserole dinner –a very good casserole dinner. But something was different. It didn’t have any rice, or potatoes, or pasta in it. What it had was a double-load of vegetables. Some were frozen, some fresh, some canned.Some were probably according to the recipe, but most were pretty much random. It didn’t matter; it tasted great.
What an overlooked idea. These vegetables gave the casserole a whole lot more flavor than the blah-tasting carbs we put in by habit.
We've used this every week since in my kitchen. If vegetables go in the dish, we make it a double-load and no one ever complains.
A while back a manufacturing company wanted me to redesign their lunchroom so their employees could mindlessly eat better without realizing it (or rebelling). After we had finished our walk-through and questions, the President said, “I know, I know, we should get rid of all our vending machines.”
Absolutely not. If a company wanted revolt on their hands, they would get rid of vending machines. We all want to know we have choice, even if we don’t make the choice.
What I suggested is that they take a number of the vending machines and offer some healthier options. For the rest of the machines, they can keep all of the tempting, chocolately goodies, but move them to corners of the factory floor that make them less accessible. People can still have them, but they have to want them bad enough to walk 200 yards instead of 30 yards. That’s just enoughfor them to pause and ask if that’s wantthey really want.
Try this at work. You can still buy what you want from a vending machine or a snack bar, but you have to use the one that’s furthest from your office. Maybe even in a next building.
Lose 33 lbs. by Drinking Coffee? A while back in Minnesota, I was giving a speech and I took a detour during the speech to talk about some of the seemingly strange changes in diets that have led to people losing large amounts of weight.
Afterward a woman in her early fifties excitedly told she had last 33 pounds in the past 6 months by making only one change: She started drinking black coffee. More accurately, she had started drinking black coffee because she had stopped drinking it with cream and sugar.
Of the hundreds of small changes people have told me about that have helped them lose 25 lbs or more in less than a year, this was a first. When I was back at the hotel, I did a little math. Unless this woman drank over 7 cups of coffee a day (a possibility), the math didn’t add up.
What I suspect happened was that she did make this cream and sugar change. But this cream and sugar change probably also led to her making other changes that were less obvious to her. It might have given her less of a sweet-tooth or less of a reason to sit down for a snack.
For 30 years my Lab and I have focused on discovering secret answers to help people live better lives. Some of these relate to health and happiness (and often to food). Please share whatever you find useful.
This video of one of my post-docs gives a flavor of one type of research that we've done: