Location, location, location… you know it matters in real estate, but it also really matters with food. Where and what kind of food is in your home or work environment greatly impacts what you eat and how much. Hunger often has little to do with many of our food choices! Here’s what you need to know:
Your Food Environment Matters
Brian Wansink from Cornell University is a mindless eating expert. His research has uncovered the following:
- Food that is in sight and in reach encourages “grazing”. Candies placed in clear jars on a desk are eaten almost 50% more quickly than those placed in opaque jars. Candies placed 6 feet away are eaten at half the rate as those close by. Food left on the kitchen counter is eaten twice as fast as food stored in kitchen cupboards.
- One of the strongest factors influencing food consumption is related to “effort required”. Food that is close at hand and requires little to no preparation encourages you to eat more than needed. In addition, when you stockpile, convenient, ready-to-eat foods, you eat them at twice the rate of non-stockpiled foods.
- If you eat in front of the television, while sitting at your computer, or while reading, you eat more. A distracting environment definitely increases calories consumed.
Eliminate The Competition
Increasing your consumption of healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, may be challenging if you don’t know this:
- Numerous studies show that availability in the home is a key factor influencing how many fruits and vegetables adults and children eat. Eliminating the competition, however, is also important. Based on research from California State University involving almost 3,000 participants unless you reduce the availability of unhealthy snacks like cookies, candies, salty snacks and soft drinks in your home, school or work environment, it’s very hard to get people to eat more of the good stuff.
- How far is your home from a store that stocks healthy food items? Research from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reports that having a healthy food store nearby significantly increases the amount of healthy foods consumed. The easier it is to get to healthy food, the more healthy food you eat!
Change Your Environment, Change Your Health
The research is clear. Food location and availability greatly impacts what you eat and how much you eat. Even if you don’t want to eat something, if it’s close at hand and in view, chances are you will. Use this knowledge to your advantage and do these three things:
- Keep unhealthy foods and easy-to-eat, convenience foods out of sight and out of reach (better yet, don’t keep unhealthy foods around at all).
- Keep healthy foods readily available and in view. For example, keep a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter and on your desk at work. Make cut-up veggies the first thing you see when you open the fridge.
- Eat in a location that is free of distractions, ideally at the table. Pay attention to your meal.
Bio for Liz Pearson:
Liz Pearson is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for peanut butter sandwiches and an undying love for chocolate. She’s the author of four books, including two national, award-winning bestsellers. Her newest book is “Broccoli, Love & Dark Chocolate (because food, love and life should be delicious!)” Check her out at www.lizpearson.com.