If your home isn’t setup correctly, it may be encouraging bad nutrition habits, your home should serve as a break from the constant lure of the fast food drive-thru or the office canteen.
If your cabinets are so stuffed that you need to put food on your counters, fridge, or exposed shelving, you’re setting yourself up to trigger a craving. A bag of potato chips or chocolate out in the open will put the food on your radar when you walk by. The minute you see that visual cue, you want it. Clean out your pantry on a regular basis. Get rid of expired food and stuff you bought that you don’t like and won’t eat even if it’s healthy. Or, come up with alternate storage plans, like a cabinet in your basement.
If healthy food is hidden, you’re less likely to eat it. That’s especially true if you keep fruits that don’t need to be refrigerated like apples or oranges or whole veggies tucked away in the crisper drawers. When you’re busy, it’s faster to rip open a bag of chips than cut crudités. Buy a pretty fruit bowl or basket so you’re more inclined to fill it; display in plain sight so you’re more likely to grab a piece. Pre-slice veggies and put them in clear containers front-and-center in the fridge for easy snacking.
The fact that you can go anywhere: home, the office, the store and the temperature is set at somewhere comfortable is a surprising contributor to obesity. Your body simply doesn’t have to work to expend energy to warm itself up, suggests a 2014 study in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism. The result: your metabolism sputters. Turn down your thermostat a few degrees. Being cold activates your brown fat, which spurs your metabolism and improves glucose sensitivity. If the change is too abrupt, start with one degree and gradually decrease the temperature. You’ll quickly adapt to the chillier temp.
Everyone wants to hide exercise equipment in case of unexpected guests. But how often does that really happen? Or, we hide it in rooms we don’t want to go in, like the garage. When your option is to go on an exercise bike covered in dust or sit on a comfortable couch in front of the TV, it’s not rocket science which option wins. Keep your dumbbells next to your couch so you’re reminded to use them while you watch TV. Set up equipment like a yoga mat or exercise bike in a space in your home you want to be in, like by a window or on the patio.
You’re inviting the wrong people over – Look at who your friends are,” says James O. Hill, PhD, director of the Colorado Nutrition Obesity Research Center. “You’re going to behave similarly to the people you spend time with.” If your friends are more the type to sit around and drink beer and eat chips, then you will be, too. Okay, no one’s saying to lose your friends—no matter how bad their health habits. “Look for friends who are doing the right thing, and have them over, too,” says Dr. Hill. If they’re more active and like to eat nutritious foods, you’re more likely to adopt their habits. Conversely, their attitude can rub off on your less-than-virtuous pals.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body scrambles hormone levels that control hunger, making you crave junk food. In one International Journal of Endocrinology study, sleep-deprived adults who were exposed to dim light in the morning had lower concentrations of the fullness hormone leptin, while those in blue light (the kind from energy-efficient bulbs) had higher leptin levels. When you wake up, open your shades to allow natural sunlight in and turn on lamps and overhead lights. You will also wake up faster.
It’s easy to take an extra scoop of pap or pasta when all you must do is reach across the table to get it, even when you’re not hungry. Dish out food straight from your pots and pans. This strategy decreased food intake by 10% for women in a Cornell University study or dish out dinner, then put the rest away. If you want seconds, you must go through the trouble of reheating, which most people won’t do, at the very least, it gives your body time to feel full, so you’ll take a smaller second portion.
You come home, put on sweats, eat dinner, and cosy up on your couch for the night with reality TV. Getting into that sleepy, sedentary, restful mode means you’re starting night time before its night time. Change into active clothes, turn on lights, and play energizing music after dinner. One study in PLOS One found that people walk at a faster pace to upbeat tunes compared to slower, more relaxing music. With higher energy, you’re also more likely to go outside for a post-dinner walk.
More TV watching is associated with a greater risk of being overweight or obese. Screen time is sedentary time. Besides, most of us watch things we don’t really like simply to fill up time. You don’t have to get rid of TV completely. However, consider removing the one from your bedroom (experts say to keep this area for sex and sleep only) and kitchen (TV encourages lingering and snacking). Cut down on your TV time and you’re more likely to be more active without even trying.
Plates that are as big as platters, wine glasses that are goblets, and bowls that may as well be troughs, large serving dishes play a trick on you: you subconsciously want to fill the space, so you wind up dishing out more. Cornell research found that adults and kids poured more cereal into large bowls and consumed 44% more calories. To decrease portion sizes, plates should be no more than 25 cm across and bowls less than 550g, recommends study author Brian Wansink, PhD, in his book Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life.
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