Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Can your kitchen help you lose weight?

It's the season of resolutions and many of us probably have some resolutions for healthier lifestyle changes. Whether you're trying to lose weight or just looking to put some focus on healthier habits, you might not think the design of your kitchen plays much of a role. I stumbled across an article on Houzz that sparked my interest to learn more about how your kitchen can help you make healthier choices.

Cornell University nutrition professor, Brian Wansink, has a new book Slim by Design that explores the power of mindless eating solutions. He spent more than two decades studying the habits of skinny people as it relates to eating. Here are a few of those findings with regards to kitchen design and the impact on eating habits. Some of these are simple solutions that don't require much of an investment beyond time, while a few might be valuable to consider if you're looking to redesign your kitchen.

1. Remove clutter. This was music to my neat freak ears! In his studies, Wansink found that people ate 44 percent more calories snacking in a clutter-filled, messy kitchen. He argues that because your environment is out of control, and lacks discipline, it's more difficult to resist temptation. So take the time to put away the clutter. You'll be able to enjoy your beautiful home, and maybe find yourself snacking a little less as well.
The lack of clutter and accessories in this kitchen also adds to the feeling of spaciousness.
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2. Fruit should be the only visible food. Making sure that bowl of fresh fruit is easily accessible goes a long way in tempting you to grab a healthier snack. Although I love decorating with domed cake stands filled with baked goods, nothing adds life and color to a kitchen like a bowl of fresh fruit.
The fresh fruit and flowers on this countertop not only look enticing, they add a beautiful pop of color to this neutral kitchen.
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3. Hide unhealthy snacks. This is a familiar idea, but one that's often forgotten. Wansink found that you're three times more likely to eat the first food you find than the fifth one. Never keep junk food on your countertop. The best storage solution? Lock those chips and cookies in a hard to reach cabinet so you have to make a conscious effort every time you indulge. This even works in the fridge. Move your produce out of the crisper and onto a more prominent shelf and fill that crisper with some less healthy items.
I love using vertical space in the kitchen and these hard-to-reach cabinets above the window are the perfect place to hide unhealthy snacks.
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4. Don't make kitchen seating too comfortable. I hadn't heard this before, but it makes perfect sense. If your kitchen barstools invite you to spend your time lounging around food, you might also find yourself mindlessly eating that food. However, this is a harder idea to implement, especially with a family. If you spend time in the kitchen preparing healthy meals for your family, you probably want to have seating that invites them to spend time with you. Try removing things like iPads and TV's to help encourage conversation and less lounging and mindless eating.
These stools are not only functional, but the wood adds a warm texture to the space. However, they aren't upholstered and the minimal backrest may help discourage prolonged lounging.
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5. Avoid all white kitchens. This is another idea that clashes with the trends. Wansink found that white and bright spaces can stimulate eating. The same goes for dark and cozy spaces where you'll want to linger for another helping. The trick is to find a happy medium. Mid-tone neutrals, even golds, greens, and blues tend to work best. Again, this is one you'll need to weigh personally. If a bright white kitchen helps encourage you to spend time cooking something healthy (as opposed to throwing a frozen meal in the microwave and getting out of there) then that may be the best design solution.
If you love bright, white kitchens, adding a pop of color to your island cabinets is a great way to bring in another color and add interest and depth.
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6. Make use of your dining room. I love dining rooms and gathering around a meal with friends and family. But dining rooms are disappearing, and many of us are gathering for meals in the kitchen or even around the coffee table in front of the TV. In addition to encouraging conversation, the dining room is further away from the food, thus encouraging more mindful eating. Furthermore, if you serve yourself in the kitchen, you'll be less likely to indulge in a second helping you don't need. As for the coffee table/TV eating - among the many reasons to avoid eating in front of the TV, it encourages mindless eating and commercials for junk food can even give you cravings for something you wouldn't otherwise want.
A dining room doesn't have to be formal. This casual space is made grand with the addition of these gorgeous green chairs.
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7. Get rid of your microwave. Another difficult one to implement, but Wansink found that people who don't have a microwave (or keep their microwave in a different room) tend to weigh less. Personally, I would love to get rid of our microwave but the hubby would never go for it. Plus, it's just so convenient for reheating healthy foods like soups. So I love this idea of moving it to the pantry.
This butler's pantry is the perfect place to tuck away the microwave - making it just a little less convenient to heat up that late night pizza.
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Wansink's book provides many more ways to help reduce mindless eating. There's even a checklist to evaluate how well your kitchen is working for you. So check out Slim by Design and choose the updates that work for you and your family.

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