By Kathleen Bullard
We talk about healthy eating and good nutrition, but often it’s how we arrange our homes, work places, and schools that can make the difference in our food choices.
Brian Wansink, Ph.D., is head of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and he has conducted very interesting studies on how and why we eat the way we do. His best-known book may be Mindless Eating, but he has recently published another book titled, Slim by Design*. In this and future blogs, we’ll discuss some of his ideas.
I eat healthily, but I’m not a saint either. I recently went to a friend’s house who continually (along with the rest of her family) struggles with weight. When I walked into the kitchen, I was greeted by huge boxes of cereal, salty snacks, and cases of soda out in the open. All day I kept passing the salty snacks, which was like a siren call to eat them. Since we were working on a project there for several days, by the third day,
I succumbed and had some potato chips. She had some fruit, but where was it? Hidden in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator. I was never reminded of the fruit, even when I opened the door to have unsweetened ice tea! In fact, I didn’t even know she had some fruit.
In Slim by Design, the Cornell team observed the kitchens of slim people v overweight people, and guess what? The slim people had salty snacks and cereal too, but not much, and it was always out of sight. Instead, slim people keep big bowls of fruit out on the counter, and fruits and veggies (along with healthy protein such as string cheese or eggs) at eye level in the refrigerator. When we’re tired, hungry, and can’t think, we grab the first thing we see. So what do your kids see when they come home from school, go past the table and open the frig?
I won’t deny that ripping open a snack bag is easier than washing and cutting up fruits and vegetables. But come on! How much longer does that really take especially if you prep it all at once? Wash and cut up everything when you come home from home grocery shopping and have it ready for the week. Make it easy to eat right. And while you’re at it, keep the fruits and veggies in clear containers and any desserts in opaque ones. When your kids pass through the house they can pick up some oranges, bananas or grapes from a bowl. Quickly serve up some hummus and veggies when they need an after-school snack. As Brian Wansink says in his introduction, “Becoming slim by design is easier than slim by willpower.”
*In addition to his book, you can learn more by also visiting his website slimbydesign.org