10 Mindless Solutions to Slim Down – Backed By Research

There’s good news in a busy world with too many distractions – increasing evidence of how we can slim down without a proven diet or exercise plan.

There are actually mindless solutions….

Cutting-edge research suggests that much of our eating is mindless. Food researchers found that, “each of us makes more than two hundred nearly subconscious food choices everyday”. And many times we’re unaware of little things that encourage us to eat more…the major cause for widening waistlines.

In today’s post we’re going to shed light on the little things to slim down.


To learn how, I’m excited to share findings from Brian Wansink. Brian is a Cornell researcher who studies how we eat. He’s authored two thought-provoking books:

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life

According to Brian, “For 90 percent of us, the solution to mindless eating is not mindful eating – our lives are just too crazy and our willpower’s too wimpy. Instead, the solution is to tweak small things in our homes, favorite restaurants, supermarkets, workplaces, and schools so we mindlessly eat better instead of more.”

Let’s begin at home.

1. Clear the Kitchen Counter, With One Exception

To drop some pounds, Brian recommends we keep all food out of sight in the kitchen, except for the bowl of fruit.

Why? Because “first seen is first eaten.”

Here’s what Brian found.

From: Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life

You’re three times more likely to eat the first food you see than the fifth one.

First seen, first eaten can be a mindless curse for weight gain. Or with the right choice, a blessing.

On average, research says this can happen over time if these are left out on the kitchen counter:

Crackers and Chips = Plus 8 pounds

Breakfast Cereal = Plus 21 pounds

Cookies = Plus 9 pounds

Fizz Cola = Plus 29 pounds

Diet Fizz = Plus 24 pounds

Any Fruit = Minus 7 pounds

You get the idea. Clear your line of sight – keep kitchen counters, cupboards and refrigerators free from junk, placing your good selection in full view.

Next is a colorful idea, or maybe not.

2. Not Too Dark, Not Too Light

Is your kitchen colored on the lighter side or the darker side?

According to Brian, somewhere in the middle is a good idea. His study showed that,

bright colors seem to agitate us and cause us to eat too quickly – and too much. Dark colors cause you to linger, eat longer, and look for more.

Go for a color in the middle. Repaint. Can’t afford to redo dark or light counters—try some decorative, mid-ranged colored placemats when eating.

Once you’re kitchen’s counters are clear and colored in the middle, check your plate size.

3. Serve on a 9 or 10 inch plate

Eating from a 12 inch plate is problematic. Research shows this to be true at buffets.

Why? Visual impact.

If we put two ounces of cooked pasta on a 12 inch plate, it looks like a weak appetizer, there’s plenty of space. As a result, we end up serving ourselves an extra spoonful. This leads to weight gain because according Brian’s research,

we eat 92 percent of what we serve ourselves.

Now do a visual comparison to see how the same 2 ounces of cooked pasta appears on a 9 or 10 inch plate. The plate looks full. No space for extra servings.

How will you benefit with a 9 inch plate? Brian’s study suggests, you’ll likely consume about 22% less calories! That’s mindless weight loss over time!

4. Simplify Your Plate

To slim down, variety is not a good thing. It can increase your consumption by 23%.

From: Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

“Increasing the variety of a food increases how much everyone eats. To demonstrate this, Dr. Barbara Rolls’ team at Penn State has showed that if people are offered an assortment with three different flavors of yogurt, they’re likely to consume an average of 23 percent more than if offered only one flavor…”

What’s Brian suggest?

Aim for a max of two items on your plate at a time. Simplifying your plate will automatically keep consumption down.

While keeping your plate simple, watch out for those everyday distractions.

5. Turn Off the TV and the Smartphone

If you’re eating at home, distractions like the TV and Smartphone make us eat more than we realize. Distractions are the enemy of a slim belly.

Here’s why…

From: Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

The basic rule: distractions of all kinds make us eat, forget how much we eat, and extend how long we eat—even when we’re not hungry… The longer they watched TV, the more they ate. In fact, if they watched TV for an hour, they ate 28 percent more popcorn than if they watched for a half hour.

No TV and phone away. Great habit to form, especially one to pass on to the kids.

Next, serve from a distance.

6. Serve From the Stove or Side Table

Want to mindlessly drop your calorie consumption by 19%?

Serve yourself from your stove or a side table. Whatever you do, don’t leave a serving bowl within arm’s reach. Too close equals too many calories.

Brian found that,people who served from the stove or counter ate 19 percent less total food compared to those serving themselves right off the table.

Keeping your serving dish at a distance is a mindless tip to slim down. This helps us get some leftovers too. Here’s how Brian suggests we store them.

7. Clear Cover the Good, Foil Over the Bad

When it comes to storing leftovers, we’ve got options. We can use clear wrap, clear plastic containers, aluminum foil, or opaque containers.

What’s best?  To slim down, Brian says to go clear. Cover the fruit and salad with clear wrap or clear containers.  For the cake and cookies, choose foil or opaque containers.


Research shows that within two days of wrapping stuff, we’re more apt to consume the clear wrapped items over the aluminum foiled or opaque contained items. In fact, in Brian’s study, most non-visible leftovers sat for over ten days.

Let’s step away from home. Time to go out to eat. First up, the buffet.

8. Face Away from the Buffet

When comparing slim folks with overweight folks at the buffet, Brian found some major differences.

What were the differences?

From: Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life

Slim folks sat 16 feet farther from the buffet, chewed each bite an average of 15 times-three chews more than heavy people, and 73 percent of the slim folks faced away from the buffet.

So face away from the buffet, sit far from it, and chew more. Extend your meal time by socializing during meals.

Now for a mindless tip at work.

9. Keep the Dish at a Distance

Just like it’s smart to keep a distance from the buffet, it’s a good idea to keep a distance from the candy dish on the work desk. The slim zone is at least six feet away.

Why a six feet minimum?

Brian’s hidden-camera candy dish study found that, moving a candy dish only 6 feet away from a desk led workers to eat 125 fewer calories – half of what they would have otherwise eaten.

The dish is now satellite, nice work. Next, let’s slow it down.

10. Take Your Time

Taking your time to eat allows your brain to convince your body that it’s satisfied.  20 minutes appears to be the magic number. That’s the amount of time it takes for our brain and body to experience satiety – the “feeling of fullness.”

The issue here is that most Americans don’t take 20 minutes to eat.

From: Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think:

“Many research studies show that it takes up to 20 minutes for our body and brain to signal satiation, so that we realize we are full. Twenty minutes is enough time to inhale two or three more pieces of pizza and chug a large refill of Pepsi. Here’s the problem. We Americans start, finish, and clear the table for many of our meals in less than 20 minutes.”

Keep in mind, even a small meal can make you feel full if you give the brain and body time to digest. So take your time.

Now, take your time to digest the Wrap Up.

Wrap Up

  1. Clear the Kitchen Counter, With One Exception – A bowl of fruit in sight keeps you slimmer.
  2. Not Too Dark, Not Too Light – Keep kitchen colors mid range to keep consumption down.
  3. Serve on a 9 or 10 inch plate – Slim down with smaller plates. They limit consumption by 22%.
  4. Simplify Your Plate – 2 items on your plate at a time may decrease consumption by 23%.
  5. Turn off the TV and Smartphone – Less distractions means less calories in.
  6. Serve from the Stove or Side Table – 19% less calories are eaten when we have to leave the table to serve ourselves.
  7. Clear Cover the Good, Foil Over the Bad – Clear covered food encourages you to eat it first.
  8. Face Away from the Buffet – Slim folks are 3Xs more likely to face away from the buffet.
  9. Keep the Dish at a Distance – 6 feet away from a candy dish can cut 125 calories.
  10. Take Your Time – Put a little less than normal on your plate, add some conversation, and before you know it, 20 minutes pass, and the “full signal” kicks – a mindless way to prevent second servings.

Thank you for reading,


P.S. Share my mission to make slimming down easier in our hectic world. Click Share to spread the message on Facebook.

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About Dave Barnas, M.S., CES, NASM-CPT

Dave is the true health guy. He is the founder and owner of True Health Unlimited, LLC, a personal health and fitness company in Tolland, CT & Wellness Writers, a subscription wellness newsletter service that incorporates live & virtual wellness workshops for companies across New England. Dave earned both a Bachelor's (1998) and Master's Degree (2000) in Nutritional Science from the University of Connecticut, and also holds certifications as a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America Group Instructor, and Nutrition Specialist. He's also the lead author for four published works. Dave has over 20 years of combined experience in nutrition counseling, dietary supplement advising, personal training, corrective exercise training, health coaching and public speaking. In addition, he's spent over 25 years studying spirituality, meditation, and personal growth strategies. Dave's clients are all ages: youth, college championship level athletes, folks in their retired years, and everywhere in between. He's worked with three of the nation's leading physicians as a dietary supplement advisor and been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Yale University, UConn, St. Joseph College and various church groups, health clubs, and high schools. In 2013, he was invited to Whole Foods Market to share his Real Food Therapy Guide. And in 2015, Dave's funny "Snowga" (yoga in the snow) video caught the attention of The National Weather Channel, who aired it to shake off cabin fever and bring laughter. In 2016, Dave & Hollie (his wife) founded Wellness Writers and deliver evidence-based Wellness E-newsletters to spread a message of health and happiness to various businesses throughout the US. Dave currently serves as a personal trainer in Tolland as well as a wellness coach and writer for several businesses, gyms and wellness facilities throughout the US.

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