We are bombarded by “hidden” messages from all around us that trick us into consuming more than we should. There are easy ways to eat less. Here are tricks to modify your environment and learn to make being slim more of a lifestyle than just a temporary target weight. These tips may surprise you.
Easy Ways To Eat Less
Skinny kitchen counter
A study (Wansink, B., Hanks, A.S., &Kaipainen, K. 2015) was made to determine whether what was on the kitchen counter had some influence on the owner’s body mass index or BMI. Skinny people have fruit on their kitchen counter while people with higher BMI have soda, cereal, candy and dried fruit. Replace the tempting sugary food items with fresh, colorful and delicious fruit.
Out of sight, not in mouth
When you’re looking for food, the first thing you see is what you’re most likely to eat – even if you know it isn’t good for you. We tend to underestimate how much we consume when food is within reach (Wansink, B., Painter, J.E., & Lee, YK. 2006). In other words, we tend to eat more of something that’s easily accessible in our homes. Don’t keep junk food in the house! Simply putting lids on the candy dish, serving dishes, or casseroles can reduce consumption. Make the healthy options more visible, such as keeping a plate of fresh cut raw veggies in the fridge.
Use colored plates
We know that bigger plates tend to make us take bigger servings, but experts have also found we tend to consume more calories when the plate is the same color as our food. Using colored plates can make you consume fewer calories (Van Ittersum & Wansink 2012). Eat off a plate that is a different color than your food, and you’ll tend to eat less.
Cut cost, add calories
Stocking up on commonly discounted items like cookies, cereal and soda may seem more economical but it has been established that this actually results in faster consumption (Chandon, P., & Wansink, B. 2002) and therefore, greater expense as well as greater calorie intake. If you have large boxes of discounted items in your kitchen, repack them into smaller single-serve sizes or, better still, keep them out of sight.
From the stovetop
Here’s another trick. People tend to eat more if the food is right on the table compared to if it were still on the stovetop (Payne, C.R., Smith, L.E., & Wansink, B. 2010). Presumably, this is because the trouble of having to stand up and walk to the stovetop for more food discourages overeating. Don’t make it easy to have seconds!
When in a restaurant, you won’t eat as much if you choose a well-lit area that is close to the front entrance or beside a window. You’ll feel more “exposed” and so you’ll be more careful about what you eat. People who stay in dimly lit areas tend to eat more, and to order dessert. And it’s no surprise that the data shows if you sit close to the bar, you’re likely to consume more alcohol.
A tall wine glass gives the illusion of being fuller. You’ll probably put 12 percent less wine in a tall glass than you would in a short, wide wineglass (Walker, D., Smarandescu, L., &Wansink, B. 2014).
If you weren’t yourself
Imagining what a person we admire would eat can help us become less impulsive. Ask yourself “What would (admired person) do?” Before you decide to go ahead and buy a large size fries, think to yourself: “Would I eat this in front of my trainer? What would he or she do?”
Know your score
Keep track of your progress in making healthy decisions and changes in your home by using a scorecard developed by Brian Wansink, a consumer behavior and nutrition expert from Cornell. Take the 2 minute survey to find out whether your home is designed for healthy eating.
If you’d like some personal help with nutrition and healthier lifestyle habits, contact Basics and Beyond fitness & nutrition to schedule a time to talk about what kind of help would work best for you. We work with clients in-person and online!