The book shows how food psychology and the food environment influence what, how much, and when people eat. It also shows how many of the cues in this environment can be altered to lead people to eat less and enjoy food more. The science is based on a series of studies in labs, restaurants, homes, movie theaters, diners, and malls that Wansink has conducted as director of the Food and Brand Lab
PsychologyThe phrase "mindless eating" refers to the empirical finding that people make nearly 20 times more daily decisions about food than they are aware of (an average of around 250 each day). As a result, they can be easily influenced by small cues around them such as “family and friends, packages and plates, names and numbers, labels and lights, colors and candles, shapes and smells, distractions and distances, cupboards and containers.”
In contrast to a physiological understanding of hunger, Mindless Eating argues that much of one’s hunger is psychologically-determined. People are not well-enough calibrated to know when they are full and even when they are necessarily hungry. As a result, they are subtly and unknowingly influenced by their environment when determining when to eat and how much to eat.
EnvironmentInstead of focusing on the macro-food environment (see Food Fight (Brownell & Horgen, 2003) and Food Politics (Nestle, 2002)), Mindless Eating focuses on the micro-environment – one’s home and one’s workplace. These are the environments that consumers directly influence on the daily basis by where they store food, where they place food, how they serve food, when they eat snacks. The studies in the book show how seemingly inconsequential decisions, such as what cupboard a food comes from to the size of plate and lighting in the room will influence how much of that food is served and eaten.
The food industryA number of the findings described in Mindless Eating, when originally published as academic articles, have been used by the food industry to develop packaging and serving options aimed at profitably encouraging segments of consumers to consume less. The New York Times reported that the findings on how package size contributed to the introduction of the commonly found "100-calorie packs", and his work on glass shape and alcohol pouring influenced bars to use taller glasses to limit overpouring. 
Supersize Me and Fast Food Nation), Mindless Eating emphasizes the most immediate and effective changes that can be made to our obesigenic society are the changes people can make at home. Although the food industry, government, and even school lunch program has made food convenient and inexpensive, the Nutritional Gatekeeper in the home is still shown to influence an estimated 72% of what a family eats inside and outside the home