Food for thought this holiday season
November 25, 2014
by Jack L. Kennedy

Those wanting to lose pounds while gaining hope, common sense and good humor will find the perfect recipe in Slim by Design by Brian Wansink (William Morrow.) Any parent, food consumer or official who wants healthy and happy family members or employees will gain from the nourishment for mind and body that Wansink offers in a very readable, practical, relaxed, writing style. There's no overt lectures on the national obesity epidemic, but just the tasty, practical writing style of an internationally-known food expert. In his introduction he explains that the "answer isn't to tell people what to do; it is to set up their living environments so that they will naturally lose weight."

The lad who grew up in the Midwest, holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University and came to be head of the Food and Brand Laboratory and John S. Dyson Endowed Chair of Marketing at Cornell University, loves Kansas City bar-b-que sauce, French fries and French moderation. He has traveled the world to advise corporate leaders and government figures about weighty matters such as how to make school or business cafeterias more alluring and the people in them less hefty and more productive. In the book he challenges fast food chains to follow a set of guidelines to make healthy food more attractive while not affecting the company's bottom line. In the name of science together with his Food and Brand Lab colleagues he has chosen an enviable life path. Imagine eating for a living, then writing about it so others will benefit.

The colorful, creatively presented guide to enjoying eating while keeping weight down and health up has a wealth of tips and observations for a variety of audiences. There are clues to placement of foods on tables in restaurants or homes so consumers will want to eat more or less of certain foods. As an advisory, Wansink cautions school officials that if they do away with all chocolate milk, thinking they are doing good by cutting out sweetened drinks, just the opposite might occur. The effect might be that kids will have less opportunity to reap the benefits that come from any form of nutritious milk. He suggests that conscientious cafes display healthier foods like salads or fruits up front where customers will be enticed by them, not buried on a menu display board under the triple-decker Big Boy Burger.

"Rice is a great food if you're really hungry and you want to eat two thousand of something."--Brian Wansink

At home, the author says, an easy way to diminish demand is to control supply: Simply put smaller servings on smaller plates, keep containers covered, so they are not as compelling and keep a fruit bowl...not a candy dish.. on the counter for snack time. Supermarkets can aid the cause also by narrowing some aisles so customers have to see and brush elbows with more healthy foods or by placing certain items like fruit up front, not further back where they may be deliberately overlooked by less healthy but more enticingly presented items. Wansink and crew advise giving magnetic, colorful names to healthy school cafeteria, corporate lunch room or fast food menus.

Even the form of payment for food plays a role, the lab research shows. In several studies, those who paid in cash actually thought longer and made better food choices. Since restaurants would not have to pay the added credit card fees, both the consumer and the provider would benefit.

Wansink, who is the author of an earlier popular volume, Mindless Eating, believes that the way to reverse weight gain is to eat sensibly and consciously--combat indulgence by design and not willpower and not treat calorie counting as if it were warfare. The former USDA adviser and 2011-2012 Society for Nutrition Education president lives with his family in Ithaca, New York where he “has never missed a meal,” encouraged by what grandma might say.

Title: Slim by Design
Author: Brian Wansink
Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (September 23, 2014)
Hardcover, $15.19 at Amazon: pp.320
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062136526
ISBN-13: 978-0062136527

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