The environment in which we work and live is a key piece to our weight loss success. When we hit bouts of stress in our lives often our health is the priority that falls to the bottom of the list. This chaos can translate into where we live and be visible in piles of mail and papers, dishes in the sink, take out boxes and overall poorer food choices. What you may not realize is that the external cues we get from our environment can influence our behavior leading us to consume more.
Feeling out of control or overly stressed coupled with a cluttered environment can make us prone to overeat. One study showed women who were stressed and put in a cluttered kitchen ate twice as many calories from sweets compared to those who were stressed and put in a tidy kitchen (1). Studies have shown that individuals eat less when they are in an environment that is less cluttered, less chaotic and with minimal distractions.
Stressed or not, each of us has a different organization style whether it’s neat and orderly to organized chaos. Knowing this may prove beneficial when trying to equip our kitchen for weight loss. For some of us if it’s not easily seen it’s not a temptation, but for others even when hidden we’re better off not having it there to begin with. Here are some tips on how to optimize your kitchen for weight loss while making it Zone® friendly too.
Take a look around your kitchen and see where you might be able to free up some space. Remember the more cluttered things appear, the more likely you’ll be to reach for the higher calorie treats.
- Consolidate papers or mail to one section rather than having it spread all over.
- Move appliances you rarely use to free up space for healthy meal prep
- Designate a cabinet or shelf to tempting foods rather than keeping them on the counter in plain sight.
Keep a bowl of fruit on the counter or replace whatever you have in the cookie jar with healthier snacks like ZoneRx bars instead. Make healthy foods like cut-up vegetables, yogurt, or hummus the first things you see when you open the fridge. Then when the urge to snack strikes you’ll have plenty of healthy options on hand to grab.
Consider tossing or designating a cabinet for unfavorable carbohydrates like pasta, rice, dry cereal, crackers, cookies and pastries. Replace these with barley, slow-cooked oats, and Zone PastaRx.
Replace vegetable oils, shortening, butter and whole fat dairy with those low in both saturated and omega-6 fats. Substitute olive oil or nut butters rich in monounsaturated fats in place of vegetable oils. To keep portions in check, consider an oil mister which allows you to spray oil on to veggies for easy roasting. Keep nuts like almonds, macadamia nuts, cashews and pistachios on hand for snack choices. Use low-fat or part-skim dairy products and keep items like cottage cheese and yogurt on the top shelf of the fridge for an easy to grab breakfast or snack option.
Frozen fruits and vegetables make for great smoothies, stir-fries, or additions to yogurt and oatmeal. Since these are picked at their ripest and then quickly frozen they’ll have a higher vitamin and mineral content than fresh fruits and vegetables that sit in the refrigerator for days. The freezer is also great for storing lean protein like chicken and fish that can easily be taken out ahead of time for weeknight meals.
Spices are a great way to add flavor (and polyphenols!) to your meals. Since they are calorie free, go to town! Add cinnamon to your oatmeal, fresh spices like mint or basil to salads, or rosemary and oregano to your protein choices.
Although canned foods get a bad rap for being high in sodium, don’t completely rule them out. Beans are a great way to add protein and soluble fiber to your salads and meals. Canned sardines and salmon make for a portable protein option and vegetable soups make for an easy meal that couples well with Zone PastaRx™. Do be mindful of the sodium content of canned goods and be sure to rinse the excess sodium off when possible before using.
An easy way to cut empty calories is to eliminate sodas, fruit juices, and sugary beverages from the house. Add berries, lemons, limes and cucumber to water to add some flavor or choose calorie-free beverages like caffeine free coffee, tea, or seltzer to add in some variety.
Having TVs in our kitchen and having tablets and phones by our side makes it hard to disconnect during meal time. Being distracted when eating can lead us to consume larger portions, eat faster, and feel less satisfied with the meal we have. Take a break from your device and bring some mindfulness to meal time.
When it comes to weight loss most of us know what to do. It’s a matter of actually doing it. Make staying in the Zone easy by optimizing your kitchen for success.
1. Vartanian, Lenny R., Kristin M. Kernan, and Brian Wansink. “Clutter, Chaos, and Overconsumption: The Role of Mind-Set in Stressful and Chaotic Food Environments,” Environment and Behavior.