Mindless Eating and Popcorn

We all do it, yet most of us don’t even know we do it.  I am reading the book, Mindless Eating by Brian Wanskink, PhD. and here is only one example of Mindless Eating:

In a study done of moviegoers and their popcorn eating habits, an experiment was run on these groups in several different states, at different times, different weather conditions and watching different movies.  Some people just finished a meal, some came hungry.

eating popcorn


Every moviegoer was given their own bucket of popcorn – FIVE DAY OLD, STALE POPCORN by the way.  It was safe to eat. It just tasted like “packing peanuts”, as one moviegoer described.  This fact was unknown to them at the time.  They just knew they could have the popcorn and a drink for free if they agreed to take a quick survey at the end of their movie.  They weren’t aware the survey was about their popcorn consumption – just their total movie experience.   Each bucket was weighed when full. Some moviegoers were given medium buckets and some large buckets. (Both buckets were too big for anyone to finish.)  After the movie, each moviegoer handed in their bucket at the survey. Their remaining popcorn was then weighed.


Those who were given a large bucket ate an average of 53% more popcorn than those with medium buckets.  According to the survey, no one liked the taste of the popcorn. (obviously!)  It didn’t seem to matter their hunger levels or their taste satisfaction.  Time and again, it was proven that those who ate from a large bucket ate more than those who ate from the medium bucket.

Bottom line:  If you are given a lot of food, you will mindlessly eat a lot more of it – even if you think you can’t be fooled and know when to stop; even if you think since you are already full you won’t eat too much; and even if you don’t enjoy the taste so much!

Fascinating, isn’t it?  So be mindful.  Serve smaller portions.  Buy small – even if it doesn’t seem like the better “value.”  Stick to it.   In the end, your body will value your decision.

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