When evaluating the cause of weight gain or ill-health, "Start with your kitchen," says Marcia Berry, a Health Educator at Berry Nutritional Coaching in New York City.
I agree with Berry, when I visit clients in their home, I take note of the food that is visible in the kitchen. It gives me immediate insight to how the family eats. If there is a big cookie jar filled with cookies, or bags of chips on top of the refrigerator I know what they often snack on. While not everyone in the household may eat these items, they are visible and ready to be eaten mindlessly.
You may not have considered the role your kitchen plays in your eating style. It takes awareness to know if your surroundings have a negative effect on your health and body weight, and it is only then that you can make the necessary changes. A recent Cornell study suggests that the kinds of ready-to-eat foods left out on the counter-top of the kitchen could influence the weight of the home's residents, especially the women. Your surroundings can be a cause of weight gain; but the good news is that, it could help you eat healthier and lose weight. The kitchen is said to be the heart of the home, but it is also an analysis of the way the family eats and prepares food. As Berry states, "The way your kitchen is staged could be the root of excess weight or it could be the reason you eat healthier food items."
The Cornell study indicated that the women who kept fresh fruit out in the open tended to be a normal weight compared with their peers. When snacks like cereals and sodas, or chips and cookies were readily accessible, those people were heavier than their neighbors, often by an average of more than 20 pounds.
Another dynamic in the kitchen that can lead to unplanned poor eating is dirty dishes in the sink, or books, mail, and papers on the counter-top. Are you inclined to clean the kitchen first or to work around the mess to prepare a meal? Conversely when the kitchen is neat, you might put more energy into preparing good food, rather than the ready-to-grab items or take-out food. If you have never considered the role your kitchen-setting plays in your body weight, take an inventory of food items visible in your kitchen. If ready-to-grab food is out in the open, is there a cabinet that you can use to store them? Out of sight...could mean out of mind. If papers and books are in your way, can you place them in a basket conveniently placed nearby?
Berry offers other suggestions to set your kitchen for success:
- If your dishes are cracked, replace them.
- Keep counters cleared.
- Clear your refrigerator and cabinets of expired items.
- Keep your appliances in good repair.
- Keep your stove clean.
- Put something shiny or reflective behind your stove to make it a more inviting area.
- Hang a painting of nature or keep an herb garden by your window.
Berry says, "Make friends with your kitchen. You will cook more and have take-out-food less."
I know you are busy with daily tasks, but a few small changes make a big difference. You can simply replace unhealthy items on your counter with an inviting bowl of fresh fruit.
Once you make the small changes then you can tackle the larger ones: How to Have a Home-Cooked Meal When You are Never Home or how to eliminate your hard-to-control and ready-to-grab food from your environment altogether.
Once you get started, the possibilities are endless.