Why Mindless Eating Begins in the Checkout Line


jakub-kapusnak-296131In Mindless Eating Dr. Brian Wansink, discusses a research study published in the Journal of Market Research he conducted in which he evaluated the affect of using numbers in in-store promotions at grocery stores on buying by the average consumer. At first he thought that certain kinds of promotions might encourage more spending. He discovered after testing several options, that ANY sign at a grocery store with a number promotion regardless of the combination ie: 10 for $2 or 5 for $15, leads consumers to buy 30-100% more than they normally would. Funnily enough after publishing the study he shared that he himself was at a grocery store and was caught up in the same kind of advertising, even though he had knowledge and just published a research study on this topic. Why is this useful information for you to know? Well, you can become more aware of your choices while in the grocery store and avoid potential advertising triggers that cause you to forget all about your budget and add in extra snacks on the way out of the check out line. The other hard truth is that we all know it becomes much harder to not eat certain foods once we’ve purchased them and gotten ourselves home. So it’s always better to not purchase foods we consider junk or unhealthy so they aren’t around to tempt us. I’ve participated in mindless shopping at times, but it is usually when I do not go to the grocery store equipped with a list. So having a list and a general meal plan can help, keeping an eye out for signs or advertising that can affect your shopping habits, and shopping with an accountability partner who helps to stop the random purchases triggered by advertising.

Dr. Wansink also discusses his work with French research Pierre Chandon, on the average person’s ability to assess the amount of food they are eating. Apparently people eat more when they eat from large containers. They found that the smaller the meal, the more accurately people were able to guess the number of calories. However with larger meals people were off by 20-40%. When taking this study into the real world at fast food restaurants they determined that the more people eat, the less accurate they become at guessing the number of calories in their meals. If you are someone who chronically overeats, having a food journal and keeping an accurate assessment of the number of calories in your meals could help you be more mindful and may shock you! Plate size and portion size awareness is key as well; since we usually eat according the size of our plate it’s best to use smaller plates or take a smaller portion and seeing if that satisfies your hunger enough to stop eating. Moral of this long story is mindful eating doesn’t just start when we get home. It begins in the checkout line. So the next time you take a trip to the grocery store, take moment to prepare a list or get specific on your dietary needs before you go in so you stay focused on the healthy track. –Xo Raw Girl


Leave a Reply