Wellness Wednesday…Set Up YOUR Surroundings for Success!

Fork, brain, knife.

“It’s easier to change your eating environment than to change your mind.” That is, according to Brian Wansink, PhD who is a leading expert in eating behavior. He believes the solution to mindless (and over-) eating is to tweak our homes, workplaces, restaurant dining, and grocery shopping so we mindlessly eat less instead of more. Willpower is hard but rearranging your life to be “slim by design” is easy. If you want to automatically eat better, all you have to do is make a few changes to your home and how you behave there. Here are some tips how:


The color of your plate can make you fat. If it’s the SAME color as your food, you’ll serve yourself 18% more.


The take-away: When you’re eating at home, choose plates that contrast with the color of your food. For example, if you’re eating white starches – pasta, rice, or potatoes – use a dark plate.


Your Kitchen Counter

A study revealed that what’s on your kitchen counter may impact your weight. The study found that women who left snacks and breakfast cereals on the kitchen counter weighed more than their neighbors who didn’t. Those who put fruit on the counter, however, weighed less.  Here’s a list of the foods found on the counter and how they impacted weight:


  • Breakfast cereal +21 lb
  • Crackers or chips +8 lb
  • Cookies +9 lb
  • Fizz cola +29 lb
  • Diet fizz +24 lb
  • Any fruit -7 lb


The take-away: Clear ALL food from your kitchen counter EXCEPT fruit.


Your Cupboards, Pantry, and Refrigerator

3-kitchen-pantry-tips-for-healthy-eatingOne study showed you’re three times more likely to eat the first food you see in the cupboard than the fifth one. Rearrange your cupboards, pantry, and fridge so the first foods you see are the best for you.


The take-away: We eat what we see, not what we don’t. Organize your shelves and make sure your healthiest food items are the first thing you see. And, if someone in your household likes to eat junk food, give them their own drawer or cupboard that is off limits to you.


Buying in Bulk

ziploc-nutsWhile you can find great bargains at wholesale clubs like Sam’s, be careful when you get it all home. One study found that if you buy in bulk, you’ll eat the food faster and in greater quantities than you otherwise would. That doesn’t mean you must forgo those stores altogether. Just take a few steps when you get home to set yourself up for success.


Tips for success: One solution is to repackage any supersized boxes into single-serve baggie sizes.   A second solution is to store it as far away from reach as possible – in a basement or distant cupboard or closet.


Drinking Wine

If wine is your weakness, here are some tips to automatically drink 10% less.

  • A study found that we tend to focus on the height of what we pour and not the width, so you pour 12% less wine into taller white-wineglasses that hold 10 ounces than into those wider red wineglasses that hold the same.



  • When we look down at a glass, it looks fuller than when we look at it from the same level as the liquid. As a result, you’ll pour 12% less in a glass when it’s sitting on the table compared to when you hold it.


  • Because red wine is easier to see than white wine, we pour about 9% less white wine into a glass.



The take-away: Use a tall, skinny glass for your wine.  And, when you pour it, keep the glass on the counter while you stand.


Family-Style Dining

Crowding all your serving bowls onto the table for dinner could make you eat more. A study found that people who served themselves directly from the stove or counter ate 19% less total food compared with those who served themselves right off the table.


The take-away: Save the fancy serving dishes and serve your food directly from the kitchen. Having to get up and walk 6 feet for a second serving may stop you from doing it. If eating family-style is a nonnegotiable at your house, try serving out of bowls with lids.


Restaurant Seating

While further research is needed on this, where you sit in a restaurant may influence what you order. The preliminary findings show some interesting results:

  • People ordered healthier foods if they sat by a window or well-lit part of the restaurant, but they ate heavier food and ordered more of it if they sat at a dark table or booth.


  • People sitting farthest from the front door ate the fewest salads and were 73% more likely to order dessert.


  • People sitting within two tables of the bar drank an average of three more beers or mixed drinks.


  • The closer a table was to a TV screen, the more fried food a person bought.


  • People sitting at a high-top table ordered more salads and fewer desserts.



The take-away: When dining out, sit at a well-light, high-top table if possible.


Quiz: How Slim is YOUR Home?


This scorecard, created by Brian Wansink, can help you determine if your kitchen is helping you or hurting you. Each check counts as 1 point. If you score more than 7, congratulations! If you get less than 7, try to bump it up to 7 by the end of the month.


☐       1. Salad and vegetables are served first before the entrée and starches are brought to the table.

☐          2. The main dish is pre-plated and served from the stove or counter.

☐          3. Your dinner plates are 9-10 inches wide.

☐          4. You eat sitting at a table with the TV turned off?

☐          5. There are two or fewer cans of soft drinks in your refrigerator at any one time.

☐          6. Your kitchen counters are organized (not messy).

☐          7. Precut fruits and veggies are now on your middle refrigerator shelf?

☐          8. At least 6 single servings of protein are in your fridge – eggs, yogurt, string cheese, tofu, etc.

☐          9. Your snacks are kept in one inconveniently placed cupboard.

☐          10. The only food on your kitchen counter is a fruit bowl.


Looking for more suggestions on how to set up your surroundings for success? Check out the book, Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, by Brian Wansink. He’s discovered more than 100 effective home-related weight loss tips.


Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!




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