[Guest Article] Interview with Dr. Brian Wansink by Michael Volkin

[Guest Article] Interview with Dr. Brian Wansink by Michael Volkin

Eat With Your Stomach, Not Your Brain – An Interview with Dr. Brian Wansink


I was fortunate enough to interview Dr. Brian Wansink, lead author to over 100 academic articles and books, including his best-seller Mindless Eating. Dr. Wansink spent a lifetime studying the reason for the decisions people make when they eat.  Whether you are someone who is interested in losing weight, or even a nutrition expert, you will find this interview interesting and eye-opening.


Sergeant Volkin: Your book mindless eating has opened many people’s eyes into what food they put in their mouth. Which of our senses provides the biggest biased on what foods we choose to eat?

Dr. Wansink: Well, all of our senses affect the way we eat but our eyes affect our eating decisions the most.  In one study involving chicken wings, a group of students were invited to an all-you-can-eat Buffalo Wing feast. The students were free to serve themselves from an open buffet of chicken wings and were able to go back for more during the game. There were bowls at each table to hold the wing bones. During the course of the game, waitresses collected the bowls and replaced them with empty bowls – but only at half of the tables. At the other tables, the bowls containing the finished wings were not picked up.  After the game, me and my team weighed the discarded bones from each table. The students who didn’t have the leftover bones as a reminder of how much they had already eaten, ate more – an average of seven wings per person; versus five wings per person of the other group. Although a 2 wing difference (at 100 calories each) doesn’t sound like much; that translates to 200 additional calories per day which equals a weight gain of 20 pounds per year.


Sergeant Volkin: One of your findings suggests that nationality plays a role in our food psychology. For example, the French know they are done with their food when they feel full. When asking Chicago residents, your results show they are done when their plate is empty. Do you think this mindset is the reason for the obesity epidemic in America?

Dr. Wansink: There are many reasons for the obesity epidemic but that reason is only a very small part.  In my opinion, the greater contribution to the obesity epidemic in this country is the affordability and availability of food.


Sergeant Volkin: Let’s talk about children. Obviously marketing has got very sophisticated over the years and it is harder than ever to get kids to eat their fruit and vegetables. You did a study and found that by adding fruit to the end of a lunch line, it increases fruit sales 70%. Same with vegetables, you can increase sales 25% just by giving vegetables catchy names. So let’s use the example of a typical mom with a couple of children. This mom is cooking her children dinner, what can she do in her home to get her kids more excited about fruits and vegetables?

I am a physical preparation coach from Belgrade, Serbia, grew up in Pula, Croatia (which I consider my home town). I was involved in physical preparation of professional, amateur and recreational athletes of various ages in sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, martial arts and tennis. Read More »