Is your kitchen making you fat?
The May 2008 issue of ShopSmart, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, reports that you actually may be able to blame the way your kitchen is set up for those hard-to-budge pounds. And food is only part of it. The style of your plates, glasses, and bowls can seduce you to overeat; so can lighting and temperature. (Who knew?)
Whether you’re struggling to lose weight or just want to eat healthier, here’s how to reorganize your fridge, freezer, and pantry to make your kitchen work for you:
On the ceiling
–Instead of bright lights around the eating area, try this: Use dimmer switches to turn it down a notch. Very bright lights can arouse the appetite, making you race through meals. Low lighting helps you relax and slow down, but don’t linger over a fattening dessert. Also, go easy on the A/C. The cooler the room, the more you’ll eat.
In the fridge
–Instead of keeping fresh fruits and veggies in the crisper, where they keep a little better, try this: Put healthful foods salad fixings and cut-up fruit for smoothies at eye level. That way they’ll be the first things you see when you open the fridge. Keep all the high-cal and fattening stuff in the crisper or tucked behind those more nutritious choices.
In food containers
–Instead of wrapping all leftovers in foil or storing them in opaque containers, use see-through containers to store good-for-you table scraps, like the last few roasted veggies, a leftover ear of corn, or bits of grilled chicken. By giving them the most visibility, you’re more likely to reach for them. Store high-cal, tempting foods in opaque bowls so that you don’t see them.
In the freezer
–Instead of stocking up on nukable pizza, mac and cheese, and other multiserving, high-cal entrÃ©es, use see-through freezer bags to store portion-controlled snacks and low-cal meals. Also, frozen fruit (grapes, cherries, sliced bananas) is like a naturally sweet, single-bite ice pop.Â (Love those frozen bananas!)
In the pantry
–Instead of buying cookies, chips, candy, sugary cereals, and other diet undoers by the case, buy them in smaller packages (if you must have them around). The more you buy in bulk, the more of those foods you’ll eat. But you can stockpile to your advantage by buying healthful things like cans of low-fat soup or fruit salads and moving them to the front of the cupboard within easy reach.
On your plate
–Instead of eating family style with help-yourself bowls and platters on the table, serve from the stove to make seconds harder to reach. To scale back calories even further, downsize your place setting. Big 12-inch dinner plates and standard dinner forks invite larger portions. Studies show that you’ll probably drink a lot less from a tall, narrow glass than from a short, wide one. (I would like to see that study.)
At the table
–Instead of watching TV or reading while you eat or prep food, watch the clock. With a clock within view, you can time your meals. Getting lost in a book or TV show can cause you to lose track of how much you’re eating. TV programs can also make you crave fatty, high-cal foods (blame the commercials!).
On the table
–Instead of using a bouquet of flowers as the centerpiece, artfully arrange a bunch of seasonal fruits or veggies in a bowl. That will remind you to nibble between meals on healthful stuff. You can also keep a bowl of fruit on a clutter-free countertop or centered on a kitchen island.
Calorie Cutting Do’s and Don’ts
–DO use lots of spices (but not salt). Spices can turn up the flavor in anything for zero calories, so make sure you have a robust supply within easy reach when you cook.
–DO keep measuring cups and spoons near your cooking oils. Never eyeball as they do on a lot of TV cooking shows. Every tablespoon is about 120 calories!
–DON’T reserve veggie platters for parties. Buy (or make) one a week and keep it in the fridge for lean and crunchy snacking.
–DON’T nosh while you cook. Keep a pack of sugarless gum in the kitchen and chomp on that instead of nibbling.
–DO enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, but not before. Sipping an alcoholic beverage can stimulate the appetite and tempt you to eat more.
–DO drink enough water for healthy hydration. Plus it’s a good appetite suppressant. You might drink more if you keep a pitcher of flavored water in the fridge. To add flavor but not calories to your water, try mint sprigs, cucumber slices, a few berries, or a squeeze from a citrusy fruit. (I love mint/cucumber water.)