Secrets of the Mindlessly Slim: Why Some People Don’t Struggle With Their Weight

By Lisa Egan / February 17, 2016

You probably know at least a few people like this.

Maybe she (or he!) is a coworker, or a neighbor, or one of the parents at your child’s school.

You never hear this person talk about dieting, or see them stressing over every little calorie.

They even eat CAKE at birthday parties and events – and don’t seem to feel one bit guilty about it.

And, they somehow manage to stay at a healthy weight.

You tell yourself they must have great genetics.

Or maybe they possess some kind of superpowers, or are one of the lucky ones who has an iron will.

Clearly, they have discovered the answer to maintaining a near-perfect weight.

If only they would share their secret with YOU.


That person actually might – perhaps even unbeknownst to them – possess secrets to helping you (or others) who struggle with their weight.


Researchers at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab have begun to uncover the lifestyle secrets of those people – the “mindlessly slim.” The Food and Brand Lab researchers created the Global Healthy Weight Registry to survey adults who have successfully maintained a healthy body weight throughout their lives. Those who voluntarily signed up for the registry answered a series of questions about diet, exercise, and daily routines.

The researchers then divided the respondents into two groups. Group one, the mindlessly slim, consisted of 112 adults who reported that they didn’t maintain strict diets. The other group consisted of those who dieted regularly, thought about food frequently and were highly conscious of what they ate.

Brian Wansink, PhD, co-author, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, explains:

We wanted to see what health behaviors differed between those struggling to lose or maintain weight and the mindlessly slim. We wanted to find the small or simple behaviors that might have a big impact.

After comparing the responses from each group, the researchers found that mindlessly slim individuals were more likely to use strategies that differ from traditional recommendations for weight loss or maintenance.

These strategies include…

  • eating high-quality foods
  • cooking at home
  • listening to inner cues
  • not feeling much guilt about overeating
  • having an enjoyment-based, internally informed approach to food and eating

The researchers also found that of the mindlessly slim…

  • 48% don’t diet
  • 74% rarely diet
  • 92% are conscious of what they eat
  • 50% weigh themselves regularly
  • 29% never do
  • 10% exercise 0 days per week
  • 32% exercise 0-2 days per week
  • 27% exercise 3-4 days per week
  • 42% exercise 5-7 days per week
  • 33% don’t drink alcohol
  • 96% eat breakfast
  • 65% eat vegetables at dinner every night
  • 37% don’t drink soft drinks

Lead researcher Anna-Leena Vuorinen, of VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland, PhD student at the University of Tempere, and former visiting scholar at the Food and Brand Lab, said of the findings:

These results are encouraging because they imply that instead of putting restrictions on one’s diet and avoiding favorite foods, weight gain could be prevented early on by learning to listen to inner cues and putting emphasis on the quality instead of the quantity of food.

What stood out most to Dr. Wansink was:

Most slim people don’t employ restrictive diets or intense health regimes to stay at a healthy weight. Instead, they practice easy habits like not skipping breakfast, and listening to inner cues. If you struggle with weight, try adding these simple practices to your routine, you may be surprised how easy it is to be healthy!

If you are a regular Nutritional Anarchy reader, then you might have noticed we are big fans of Dr. Wansink’s work around here. We appreciate the common-sense, real-world advice he provides. He also has a fantastic sense of humor.

We highly recommend this video of Dr. Wansink discussing Slim by Design and how to go from mindless eating to mindlessly eating better.


For more information on how to stop stressin’ over dieting and what you can do instead, please check out Why Humans Hate Dieting and What to Do Instead (Hint: Be a Diet Anarchist!)


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Source: Nutritional Anarchy


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