Use This Checklist to Design Your Home for a Healthy Diet.
In his book Slim By Design, Brian Wansink of Cornell University’s Food and Brands Lab discusses how the most subtle external cues can affect our addiction to mindless eating . He believes that by slightly changing the physical environment in the kitchen, you can be reminded of the need for more consistent healthy lifestyle choices.
Wansink has provided this kind of “checklist” (PDF) to help you make your home environment more healthy for eating. You will find tips such as eating from small plates ; place a clearly visible vase with fresh fruit in the kitchen; keeping unhealthy food out of sight (and out of reach); and do not turn off the TV while eating. These familiar-sounding tips are based on nutritional psychology and work by manipulating your environment so you can continue to eat “mindlessly.” At the same time, you end up making better choices without having to use your willpower at all .
People often do not believe that they are so easily influenced by external cues, or at least downplayed. We’ve written about some of these subtle influences, including how items found on your kitchen counter relate to weight and how restaurant menus can play a trick on you . I definitely found myself wanting to grab a snack on junk food when it was readily available and readily available.
According to Wansink, we make more than 200 food decisions every day, many of which are made unconsciously. While we cannot rely on willpower alone to make smarter decisions each time, we can at least try to structure our environment to help us “mindlessly” make the best choices for us. Try it.