If you're trying to shed a few pounds, it's only natural to consider what you eat and how much you exercise. But what might be less obvious are the hidden culprits within your home. Research suggests that the colour of your walls, the curtains in your bedroom, even the appliances on your kitchen counter can undermine your healthy eating efforts.
To eat healthfully at home, think beyond what's on your dinner plate. Scan your house for the following 10 fat traps. Wherever possible, employ strategies to help turn your home into a space that promotes healthy eating and physical activity.
Fat Trap #1: No designated eating-only areas. If you eat while watching television, checking emails, or standing over the kitchen sink, you're more likely to overeat. You won't savour your food and you may even forget what you've eaten.
Reserve the kitchen table or dining room for meals to help you pay attention to what - and how much - you're eating.
Fat Trap #2: Too many TVs. If you have a television in the kitchen, consider removing it. Many studies have found that television watching is linked with overweight and a less active lifestyle. But research also suggests that the quality of your diet might suffer if you eat while watching the tube. One Canadian study investigated the eating and television viewing habits of 534 ten-year olds. All of the children's food choices deteriorated with increased frequency of eating while watching television.
Houses that have a family room off the kitchen may also encourage eating while watching the television. You certainly don't need to renovate your house, but some experts suggest keeping the TV hidden in an entertainment centre or moving it to a different room - but not the bedroom. Research shows that kids who have a television in their bedroom are more likely to be overweight and spent more time watching TV and videos than children who didn't have a TV in their room.
Fat Trap #3: Large dinnerware. Studies show that we eat what's in front of us, and the larger the glass or dinner plate, the more calories we'll consume. If you don't know much milk or juice your glasses hold, measure it. A food guide serving of milk is 8 ounces (250 ml) or 4 ounces (125 ml) of fruit juice. Use larger glasses for water.
If you're trying to reduce your portions at meals, use luncheon size plates that are 7 to 9 inches in diameter. The plate will look full and you'll end up eating less. If you serve your meal on a larger plate, chances are you'll fill it.
Fat Trap #4: The wrong colours. The colour of your dishes - and your kitchen and dining room walls - can influence your appetite. Colour experts suggest opting for blues and greens, colours that calm the appetite. Reds, yellows and oranges stimulate appetite. (It's probably not a coincidence why many fast food restaurant logos use bright reds and yellows.)
Fat Trap #5: Healthy foods out of sight. Decorate your table or kitchen counter with a bowl of fresh fruit. Keeping fruit visible and within reach will encourage healthy snacking. Keep unhealthy snacks out of sight - and out of reach. Clear out the kid's candy drawer and move these treats, along with cookies and other packaged sweets, to high cabinets.
Fat Trap #6: The right appliances out of reach. Keep kitchen tools with nutrition in mind - the blender, steamer, and air popper - in a place where they're easy to reach like the kitchen counter. If you don't have to dig through hard-to-reach cabinets, you'll be more inclined to use them. Keep a cutting board ready for use on the kitchen counter; that way preparing and slicing vegetables will seem like less of an effort.
Fat Trap #7: Dine to fast-paced music. If you overeat when you're anxious, stressed or depressed, consider turning on your stereo during meals. Research shows that listening to music can help reduce anxiety, irritability, fatigue and depression. To help slow your eating pace, choose classical music. The faster the beat, the faster you'll eat - and the more food you'll likely consume before feeling full.
Fat Trap #8: Office in the kitchen. If you've set up a workstation in your kitchen you might consider moving it to another room. Anything that keeps you in the kitchen (and around food), like surfing the Internet or doing paperwork at the kitchen table, will increase the likelihood of excess snacking.
Fat Trap #9: Holding on to "fat" clothes. If you have multiple sizes of clothing hanging in your closet, it's time to donate the ones that don't fit. Keeping clothes that are too big gives you permission to regain your weight. You'll be more motivated to stay trim if you get rid of your safety net.
Fat Trap #10: Dusty exercise equipment. If the treadmill or stationary bike in your basement never gets used, consider moving it to a place where you'll actually feel like exercising. If possible, move it near a window so you can look outside. Or move it in front of a TV; watching television while working out can help pass the time more quickly.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.