"Our homes are filled with hidden eating traps," Brian Wansink, the John Dyson professor of consumer behavior at Cornell University, where he directs the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, says in a statement.
"Most of us have too much chaos going on in our lives to consciously focus on every bite we eat, and then ask ourselves if we're full."
One myth, he says, is that people know when they are full and stop before they overeat.
His Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University designed a 'bottomless bowl," and brought in 60 people for a free lunch and gave 22-ounce bowls of soup to half, while the other half unknowingly got 22-ounce bowls that were pressure-fed under the table and slowly refilled.
Wansink says those with the bottomless bowls ate 73 percent more than those with normal bowls, yet when asked, they didn't realize they had eaten more.
To combat "mindless eating," Wansink suggests:
-- Simply being aware of such findings and making healthier choices.
-- Eating off salad plates instead of large dinner plates.
-- Keeping unhealthy foods out of immediate line of sight and moving healthier foods to eye-level in the cupboard and refrigerator.
-- Eating in the kitchen or dining room, not in front of the television.
The findings were presented at the American Psychological Association's 119th annual convention in Washington.