Finals Are Approaching... Don't Let Your Dorm Room Be a Food Trap

Getting ready for finals? Cramming in your dorm room? Be careful - our environments influence our eating patterns, so if we're spending a lot of time in a place where junk foods are easily available, we are more likely to eat them.

But have no fear - rearranging your dorm or kitchenette to promote healthy eating is simple, and can make lasting improvements in both overall health and weight. These 4 steps, inspired by the work of Brian Wansink and colleagues at Cornell University, will help you finish finals with high marks and a trim waistline.

1. Out of sight, out of mind. If the donuts your friend brought over are staring you down, it's easy to fall into a "mindless eating" trap. So take the sweets and treats off of the counters and put them in a drawer or the freezer if they're freezable (you'll at least have to wait for them to thaw!). Keep fruits and veggies visible and easily accessible for a quick nutritious snack.

2. Ditch the big "cereal bowls". Using smaller serving plates, bowls, spoons, and drinking glasses will help with portion control without leaving you feeling deprived.

3. Beware of the value pack. If buying in bulk saves you money, do it! But make sure to divide a larger package into single-serving portions. For example, nuts are a wonderful snack because they're filled with healthy fats and protein. Try to buy either single-serving packs or empty a larger container's contents into snack bags as soon as you get home from the store.

4. Log out, sign off, and power down! Doing other activities while eating is a recipe for disaster. Watching TV, reading, texting, and checking social media all lead to eating mindlessly, which can inhibit our abilities to recognize hunger and fullness cues. Try to make your kitchen or eating area electronics-free - you'll spend less time zoning out and more time focusing on you!

Thank you to Chiara Giombetti for her contribution to this blog post.