Where and How You Eat Can Help Keep Your Diet On Track

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We all know that what you eat is essential to any weight loss plan, but did you know that how you eat could be preventing you from dropping those extra pounds? Dr. Melissa Lem reveals the science behind some surprisingly simple things you can do to your kitchen environment to keep your diet on track.

Words: Kitchen on a Diet

1. Keep it in the Kitchen

Diners in a recent study ate about 20 per cent fewer calories when they helped themselves to food from the stove or counter instead of the dinner table. Going back for extra servings is that much easier when food is right in front of you!

2. Check Your Counter

These tips come from the Syracuse Study, where a researcher from Cornell University visited 240 homes in Syracuse, New York and took detailed pictures of kitchens while measuring women’s weights.

  • Keep junk food out of sight. Women with chips or cookies on display weighed about 10 pounds more than their neighbours.
  • Put that cereal away, because women with cereal out weighed a whopping 21 pounds more! One reason could be that cereal is often considered healthy, but can be high in sugar and calories — so if you’re reaching for a handful a few times a day it can add up.
  • Women with fruit bowls on their counters weighed 8 pounds less, so be sure to follow suit.

Also, ban the clutter. People ate 44 per cent more snack food from messy and crowded counters than those who saw the same snacks in a neat kitchen.

3. Stay Away from Screens

One study showed that people consumed about 40 per cent more food when watching television, possibly because they tended to snack to the pace of the show and kept eating until the program was over. Not only that, but filling your kitchen with technology makes it a more tempting place to spend time and eat. So power down your gadgets and concentrate on your meal!

4. Serve Smart

More research from Cornell University revealed that your dinnerware can have a huge impact on how much you serve yourself.

  • Shrink your dinner plate size to 9-10 inches instead of the typical 11-12 inches. Study participants served themselves up to 31 per cent more on larger plates.
  • Choose a dish that contrasts with your food colour. Diners served themselves about 20 per cent less because food that stands out from a plate looks like a bigger serving.
  • Grab a tall, skinny glass for high-calorie drinks — people poured about 30 per cent more into a short, wide glass.

5. Watch Your Walls

  • Light and bright kitchens featuring white and cream walls, as well as strong lighting, can activate you and stimulate your appetite. For example, in a study from the 1970s, a brightly lit table induced people to eat more from a bowl of nuts. Research also suggests that you should avoid too-dim lighting because it can lower inhibitions, leading to extra helpings of dessert.
  • Decorate with mirrors. College students in a study from Iowa ate significantly less full-fat cream cheese from a spread of bagels and cream cheese when they were sitting in front of a mirror. Self-awareness theory says that being forced to focus on yourself makes you less likely to cheat on your inner standards!

6. Use Your Kitchen

Home-cooked dinners can be a home run when it comes to weight loss. A recent study from Johns Hopkins University showed that people who enjoyed home-cooked dinners six or more times per week consumed a significantly healthier diet and fewer calories overall. Bon appétit!

 

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