"If you want to be skinny, do what skinny people do," says Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and author of Slim by Design.
Dr. Wansink and colleagues recently conducted an interesting study on 300 kitchens in Syracuse, NY and found a correlation between participants' weights and their kitchen counters. The researchers found that the "presence of fruit on the counter was associated with lower body mass index (BMI)... but the presence of foods such as candy, cereal, soft drinks, and dried fruit were associated with weight differences that ranged from 9.4 to 14.4 kg," translating into roughly 20-30 pounds.
While such results found a correlation -- as opposed to a cause and effect -- between what is on your counter top and your weight, nonetheless, we can take away some useful pointers which may help us slim down.
As a nutritionist and author specializing in portion control and dieting, I believe that our environment is a huge factor affecting our eating habit. If we are served large food portions, we eat them. Similarly, if we leave candy lying around on our counter top, guess what? We will, most likely, eat it!
For the good news, how we set up our home environment, especially our kitchen can help us make healthier food choices. After all, as most of us know, leaving our food choices up to willpower is not the best idea.
Here are five simple things you can do to create a healthier kitchen environment. You may even lose a few pounds along the way.
1. Place a fruit bowl on your counter.
Keep fresh fruits handy. As Dr. Wansink's study suggests, it's a great idea to keep a fruit bowl on your kitchen counter.
2. Munch on baby carrots.
I'd also suggest keeping fresh vegetables in your refrigerator at arms reach. Baby carrots, celery, red peppers, you name it!
3. Put that box of cereal away!
If you love ready-to-eat cereal, aim for healthier whole grain varieties, and equally important, do not keep the cereal box sitting out on the kitchen counter. Put it away in the cupboard where you can't see it. Seeing food, often translates into eating food!
4. Make junk food invisible.
Keep healthy food, including fruits and vegetables, in clear containers and unhealthy foods, such as candy and cookies, in opaque containers. As the saying goes, "out of sight, out of mind!"
5. Follow the rule of one.
Keep only one bag of candy and one type of cookies in your kitchen at a time. The more variety we have, the more we tend to eat. This is a great concept when trying to eat a more colorful assortment of fruits and vegetables. But when it comes to candy and junk food, I suggest not having too many choices around.
We would love to hear your kitchen makeover tricks.