Note: This is a guest blog contributed by Amy Jones, registered dietitian at Mary Rutan Hospital as part of our commitment to promote the many wonderful things our local businesses are doing.
Did you make resolutions or start a diet this New Years? You’re not alone. Many choose the New Year to make a commitment to healthier eating. The problem is, most of us (myself included) can’t get that resolution to stick long-term. By January 15th many of us have returned to our old habits. Willpower isn’t enough to make long term changes. Our food environment plays a huge role in how easy (or difficult) it is to resolve to make positive changes.
Kitchens are no longer just places we eat—they are often the center of home life. With this in mind, how can you make your kitchen a healthier food environment? Dr. Brian Wansink has compiled 25 years of his research into his new book, Slim By Design: Mindless Food Solutions for Everyday Life. In it, he offers some very simple suggestions to make your kitchen a health-friendly environment that supports your efforts instead of derailing your willpower. Here are 5 of my favorites.
1) Keep tempting foods OUT of sight. At our house, my husband accuses me of “hiding the snacks.” I’m not hiding them (really!) I’m just keeping them out of sight so when we reach for that snack, we really want it—not just because we see it. Keep cookies, chips, and cereals put away in cabinets. If you must leave foods out, keep them in containers you can’t see through (or cover them with foil). This simple change worked in our house with a tempting food, chocolate covered pretzels. By just changing the container to one we couldn’t see into, we went from eating a bag a week to forgetting they were there. They actually went stale before we remembered to eat them!
2) Keep healthy foods IN view. A fruit bowl kept within two feet of the most common path through the kitchen can be a great cue to select fruit instead of a higher calorie snack. Try to keep at least two kinds of colorful fruit in the bowl.
3) Make your kitchen a place where people DON’T lounge. Have a TV in your kitchen? Comfortable chairs? You might consider moving those to other areas of your home. While it might seem extreme to make this type of change, spending more time in the kitchen in between meals can contribute to eating more. Seeing food on TV is also a cue to eat more, and we often zone out during TV time and don’t pay attention to how much or what we are eating.
4) What do you see when you open your fridge? Keep pre-cut fruits and vegetables at eye level (and ideally in a clear container). If your refrigerator keeps fruits and vegetables in a bottom drawer, it can make them forgotten foods. Just moving fruits and vegetables to where everyone can see them when the fridge is open a very helpful cue for healthier eating.
5) Don’t drink your calories. While it can be tricky to give up pop, one way to help your family drink less is to make sure you have no more than one can of pop (per pop drinker) in the refrigerator at any time. Keep the rest out of sight. If there is only one can cold and ready to drink at anytime, you’re less likely to reach for a second.
Did you see a suggestion above that might be easy to implement in your own home? For more ideas like the ones above, you might consider purchasing the book mentioned above. And if you’d like more help with managing your weight, Mary Rutan Hospital offers one-on-one nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian. Call 937-651-6430 for more information.
Amy Jones, M.S., R.D., L.D. has been a dietitian for 13 years and has been with MRH for the last 11 years. She enjoys all areas of nutrition, including celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and weight management/mindless eating. In particular, she enjoys speaking to community groups and helping people to get excited about healthy eating. She lives in Marysville with her husband and 7 year old son. In her spare time, she runs, practices yoga, loves puzzles, and enjoys research and reading.