"Kitchens often become dumping grounds," says Peter Walsh, a professional organizer and the author of Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? A messy space makes healthy eating harder because it's a lot easier to grab a few cookies or order pizza than it is to unearth a countertop and cook. Plus, clutter leads to stress, which raises cortisol levels in the blood, increasing hunger, adds Pam Peeke, MD, a Prevention advisor and the author of Fit to Live.
Pick one spot for mail and newspapers, and keep large areas of counter space clear for meal prep. Also, store a few cooking tools, such as a plastic steamer or food chopper, on an easily accessible shelf. And reserve an area in the kitchen for eating only, designated by place mats, suggests Evelyn Tribole, RD, who specializes in intuitive eating. When you separate eating from other activities, you're more likely to focus on your food and listen to fullness cues. Studies show that when distracted, you'll eat 15% more.
Your Glasses Are Wide
People serve themselves more soda and juice when using short, wide glasses than they do with tall, skinny ones, according to recent research. That's because we focus on the height of beverages when pouring a portion. Americans drink about 350 calories a day--pour just 2 extra ounces of OJ every morning and you could gain 3 pounds in 1 year.
Use skinny glasses for soda and juice, and fill wider ones with water and other calorie-free quenchers. When it comes to weight loss, what you drink has a greater impact than what you eat: Studies show that you could lose 1 pound in 6 months just by cutting out one sugar-sweetened drink serving a day.
Your Pantry Is Huge
Bulk shopping can help cut food bills, but if you store groceries in their supersize packages, you're more likely to supersize your meals. Researchers found that people prepared 23% more food when cooking from large containers and ate twice as many candies from big bags as from smaller ones. Having a large variety of food may cause you to overeat too: "With four types of cookies at your fingertips, you're more likely to try a little of each in search of satisfaction," says Domenica Rubino, MD, director of the Washington Center for Weight Management and Research in Virginia.
Big packages don't have a natural stopping point, so break them down into smaller containers or single-serving portions. Also, keep only one variety of your favorite treat in the house to help curb temptation.
Your Cookie Jar Is Clear
According to a research review, just seeing tempting food makes people feel hungrier. It also causes the release of dopamine, a brain chemical that produces a feel-good sensation and may intensify a particular craving.
"Reengineer what's within reach," says Wansink. Put trigger foods in opaque containers and stash them in an inconvenient spot. When you need a step stool to reach those cookies or have to push past veggies to get to the leftover cake in the fridge, it serves as a speed bump to help you pause and reconsider, says Wansink. You should also create a no-brainer snack bucket, adds Rubino. Load an open container with yogurt and cheese sticks, and keep it front and center in the fridge. If you chose a fruit cup instead of potato chips every day, you'd be 4 pounds slimmer in 6 months.
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