What if you could eat healthier and lose weight without having to give it much thought? It sounds like a pipedream, but science shows it’s entirely possible.
In his book “Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life” (September 23, 2014), Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, points out that each of us makes more than 200 nearly subconscious food choices every day: Side salad or potato chips? Finish the sandwich or leave half for later? Cookies or a piece of fruit? And we’re nudged to make either healthy or unhealthy decisions by our eating environment, from the size of our plates to how easily we can reach the candy on our desks.As Wansink notes: “It’s good to understand nutrition, but it’s much more effective to change our eating environment.
”He believes that becoming “slim by design”—in other words, designing your environment to help you automatically make healthier choices—works better than trying to lose weight through sheer willpower.
Here are the 7 ways you can lose weight with little effort:Make fruits and vegetables easy to spot. Placing produce on the top shelf of your fridge will encourage you to eat three times more fruits and vegetables and reap their health and beauty benefits. Even better, have a filled fruit bowl on your kitchen counter. People who do are 8 pounds lighter than those without fruit bowls.
Pour red wine into a white wine glass. Wine snobs may cringe at this, but making the glassware swap will save you some calories. Visually, we tend to focus on the height of what we pour, not the width, notes Wansink. People tend to drink 12 percent less wine when it’s poured into a white wine glass, which looks fuller to us, than a red wine glass. (Here are more sneaky tricks for drinking less without your friends knowing.)
Eat in well-lit or sunny areas. Restaurant diners who sit the farthest from the front door eat less salad and are 73 percent more likely to order dessert. That’s because the darker it is, the more invisible you might feel, reducing the guilt over ordering that brownie sundae. So whether you’re eating at home or dining out, have your meals in well-lit spots, such as near a window. Being in the sunlight or seeing people outside might make you more conscious about how you look and may even prompt you to order a healthy salad.
Plate your food straight from the stove or kitchen counter. Rather than having platters of food on the dining table, serve your food directly onto your plate from the stove or the kitchen counter. Not having easy access to seconds (or thirds) will help you to eat nearly 20 percent less food.
Get a doggie bag. People who place half of their meal in a to-go box before they start eating, rather than trying to become a member of the Clean Plate Club, consume one-third fewer calories than those who forgo the doggie bag. Better yet: Ask if you can order a half-plate portion so you won’t be tempted to eat more than you need.
Store candy out of sight. People who nosh on candy and snacks they keep in or on their desks report weighing over 15 pounds more than those who don’t. As Wansink says, “In sight, in stomach.” In other words, we eat what we see, not what we don’t.
Place healthy foods up front. You’re three times more likely to eat the first food you see in the kitchen cupboard than the fifth one. Wansink recommends rearranging your cupboard, pantry and refrigerator so the first foods you see are the best ones for you.