As most of us know, changing our lifestyle to focus on health is a big deal. It usually involves planning ahead, grocery shopping, cooking, communicating with family and friends, and finding time to exercise, among other things. It can feel overwhelming at times, but there are ways to make the transition easier. Today, we’re showing you how to makeover your kitchen and dining environment to set you up for success. Whether you just started your journey to health or are a seasoned pro, here are some simple actions you can take to help you reach your goals.
1. Toss or donate trigger foods.
Trigger foods are those which are hard to say “no” to, and which you can’t just have one bite of. This may be potato chips, ice cream, cookies, or cake. By not having these foods readily available, you do not have to constantly fight the urge to eat them. Donate them to someone in need, give them to a friend, or toss them. Who wants to have to say “no” everyday?
2. Make tempting foods less visible and inconvenient.
Many of us have families, making it difficult to banish all sugary treats. But there’s a lot of truth to the saying “out of sight, out of mind.” Clear your counter of all food, except for vegetables and fruit. If possible, move your pantry outside of your kitchen to make it more inconvenient to grab processed foods. For example, move all of your pantry items to the garage or basement. Relocating unhealthy food makes it less likely you will reach for them first. Another idea is to designate your own shelf or cabinet in the kitchen. This way you do not have to fight through everyone’s junk food to get to your healthy favorites.
3. Rearrange your fridge and pantry.
Move all of the healthier items to a shelf that is at eye-level and move the less healthy items to the back of your fridge and pantry. One option would be to move your vegetables and fruits from the crisper and onto the top shelf. The more readily available and visible your healthy options are, the more likely you are to eat them first.
4. Stock your kitchen with items high in protein, healthy fats, and fiber.
Empty kitchens can be just as unhealthy as a kitchen stocked with your trigger foods — not having food on hand may cause you to overeat elsewhere. Stock your fridge and cabinets with protein and veggies, such as plain Greek yogurt, eggs, cut up raw veggies, nuts, seeds, sliced deli meat, and some fruit. Buy smaller packages of food, which may also help you to eat less. Bigger packages can cause us to make more food and thus eat more of it.
5. Make it easier on yourself to cook.
Make your pots, pans, cutting boards, and other cooking essentials easily accessible. Store your spices on a spice rack or organize them in your cabinet so they are easy to find. Make sure you have good lighting in your kitchen to make it easier to see during preparation as well.
6. Make cooking more enjoyable.
Not everyone likes to cook, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it as enjoyable as possible. Turn on some of your favorite music, pour yourself a small glass of wine, and enjoy this moment you have for yourself. Alternatively, you can get your spouse or children involved so that cooking becomes a family affair that doubles as quality time spent enjoying each other’s company.
7. Shrink your serving utensils and dishware.
Have smaller serving spoons, plates, drinking glasses, and bowls on hand. Bigger utensils and dishware prompt us to unconsciously grab more food in order to fill our plate, bowl, or glass. Doing this for each meal quickly adds up to extra calories that we probably don’t need. Smaller utensils and dishware actually trick our minds into thinking we are getting more food because it’s easier to fill them to the brim.
8. Make your kitchen table a space you want to eat at.
Eating in front of the television or computer can lead to mindless eating that makes it harder to tune into satiety levels. Make eating a special, mindful experience by eating at your dining room table with the television off and technological devices put away. The idea is to eat undistracted so you can truly savor your food and avoid overeating. Enjoy the company of your family and friends or sit and enjoy a moment of peace as you eat, if you are alone. You can also take that time to write down your thoughts about the day or brainstorm some ideas for a project you may be working on.
Simple actions spark big movements. Our eating environment plays an important role in our weight loss and health journey, so take a few moments today to choose a step or two to tackle. By making just a few of these changes, you will help yourself to be more mindful of your food choices, as well as make your kitchen work for YOU.