I love my home. It is comfortable and surrounds me with things that bring me joy (I went through a very strong Marie Kondo phase). That being said I also have my home set up to support me in my personal goals. For instance: I like when I eat healthy. Therefore I have my home set up to help me eat healthy. I am guessing you wonder what the heck I mean by this?
Your environment influences how you eat. Often in ways that are very subconscious and may get in your way without you even being aware of it. There are numerous ways you can set up your home environment to support you. I am only going to name a few of my favorites. (I l highly recommend the book Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink, PH.D. He explains many ways our environment can affect how we eat.)
This might sound strange since I am an intuitive eater and Intuitive Eating** asks you to eat in response to internal cues and not external cues. However, as good as I am at Intuitive Eating I am not immune to my environment. In fact, I actually consider myself a master food “picker”: I can eat just a bite here and just a little there – endlessly. So I choose to structure my environment to support me. The less mindless eating I am doing the more successful I can be at eating healthy.
Here are a few things I do to have my home help me out:
I have one nice place where I eat. My table is comfortable and has a nice view for when I am eating alone. It is clear of work so I do not feel stressed by deadlines as I eat. I sit so I am not facing the TV and don’t have the TV on during meal times so I am not distracted while I eat. I do not discuss “business” at a meal. I save that for a different time in my day.
I use smaller plates and silverware. Normal food portions often look miniscule on the massive plates you can buy today .The bigger the dish the more food you eat. (If you have inherited any of your Grandma’s dishware – it may seem pretty small since plates have gotten consistently bigger over time). I prefer tall thin glasses. They look more full than short wide glasses. I put all my food on my plate at once. All of this helps my “eyes” feel satisfied.
I leave the food I have cooked on the cook top and island – not in front of me at the table. It is far easier to take more food when it is sitting within inches of my face. This concept is great at work as well. If there is a snack bowl within reach – try moving it just far enough that you have to get up from your desk to get it and your intake of the “snack” food will go down significantly.
I try to limit fast food to only once a week or less. This is because the portion sizes and calories can get out of control real quick and make it hard for me to eat healthy. When my husband and I do eat out we often split the dish or bring home the leftovers for lunch the next day. Half portions of today’s huge restaurant servings are rarely restrictive and usually I am satisfied.
I only eat in one room of my home: the kitchen (actually my dining room as well but that is usually for holidays). This helps me not associate other rooms with food. I am not thinking of food when I am sitting in the family room, or in my office, or in bed at night.
I leave out the foods I wish to encourage myself to eat; like the fruit bowl. The foods I want to eat less of I put out of sight. The chips and chocolate are in the pantry but not at eye level. They are lower and higher and in the corner so I am not always seeing them every time I open the pantry door. I also set up my refrigerator so the foods I want to eat more of are level at my eyesight; e.g. cut up vegetables. The other foods I put in opaque containers or in drawers.
I keep foods that are healthy in my home. I make it easy to eat those foods. Other foods like ice cream I need to use a bit more effort to get them at the store. Or If I keep them at home they are out of eyesight.
I schedule exercise daily. I have my gym bag packed and in the trunk of my car. I call friends on Monday to schedule “walk and talk” days ahead of time. All of this makes it fun and easier to “work out”.
Having my home environment set up to work for me is wonderful. It functions as my personal health support system: one that is not only helpful but also cozy and comfortable and brings me great joy.
Written by Sarah Gold, MS, RD, LDN and Intuitive Eating counselor
**Intuitive Eating is a book written by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA, CEDRD. Find out more at intuitiveeating.com
Sarah Gold is an intuitive eater, dietitian, chocolate lover, and dog lover,