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January 22, 2010 at 2:58 PMComments: 11 Faves: 1

7 Kitchen Changes That Will Help You Lose Weight

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This Author

If you are one of millions of people struggling with weight issues, chances are good you've tried one or several diet plans, you've invested in weight loss supplements, and you've bought fat-free this and 100 calorie that at the grocery store - but have you tried changing your kitchen?

Most people aren't aware that something as simple as their kitchen layout and design can sabotage their weight loss efforts. The solution luckily, is simple. With 7 simple changes your kitchen is your friend again.

#1. Change Your Plate Size

Did you know that plate sizing has grown by 25% since the 1970's?!

Lisa Young PhD, RD, and author of "The Portion Teller Plan" talks about our tendency to fill our plates and to finish everything on them, and this psychology is the real problem. The average dinner plate size is 12 inches or more, so exchange yours for a plate just 2 inches smaller at 10 inches, and you'll cut a whopping 22% of calories from each meal! However, don't go any smaller, or you'll be going back for seconds.

Another suggestion from Young is to use your salad plate for the high calorie parts of your meal like meats and pasta, and to fill your dinner plate with fruits and vegetables.

#2. Change the Lighting

The bright, high-wattage lighting often used in kitchens may actually raise stress levels stimulating your appetite and spurring you to eat faster than you normally would.

Try to reduce lightening when it's time to eat, 240 watts or four average 60 watt light bulbs is the recommendation and 75-100 watts if you're using compact florescent (we recommend you avoid them. The mercury contamination isn't worth the energy saved). However, don't go too dim. Studies show very dim lighting lessens inhibitions, and eating for weight loss requires eating deliberately.

#3. Clear the Clutter

Often times kitchens become the catch-all of the house, but if your kitchen is filled with stacks of papers, mail and clutter, you'll be less likely to pulling out a cutting board and make a homemade meal and more likely to reach for instant meals or the takeout menu. Clutter also increases stress levels which, as discussed earlier, promotes appetite and spurs faster, less-satisfying eating. Clear clutter out the kitchen and keep your counters as open as possible to support your healthy eating goals.

#4. Change Your Glass Size

Did you know people pour more cups of soda and juice when they use short, wide cups instead of tall, skinny ones?

Our brains tend to focus on the height rather than the width of a cup. The average American consumes around 350 calories everyday from beverages alone. Just two extra ounces of juice a day could cause a weight gain of 3 pounds in one year! Experts suggest that people use skinny glasses for soda and juice and wide cups for water. You should also know that what you drink may have a greater impact than what you actually eat. Cut out just one sugar-sweetened drink a day, and that's one less burden on your body's metabolism.

#5. Change Your Buying Habits

Bulk shopping is another modern enemy of the overweight.

While buying in bulk may save you some money, it probably won't save your waist line. When people use super-sized packages, they are more likely to super-size their intake as well. Research has also found that people consume 23% more food and twice as many candies when eating from large packages. An abundant variety is also a problem. While variety may be the spice of life, it may also encourage overeating.

Director of the Washington Center for Weight Management and Research, Domenica Rubino, MD put it this way - "With four types of cookies at your fingertips, you're more likely to try a little of each in search of satisfaction". If you must buy bulk, try breaking packages down into smaller containers, or single-sized portions, and avoid buying multiple varieties of your favorite treat. Instead, choose variety in healthy foods that will help you lose weight and enjoy the process!

#6. Hide Some Foods, Display Others

Research shows that just seeing food can trigger your brain to feel hungrier and cause a release of dopamine, intensifying your craving for that particular food.

Do yourself a favor and keep tempting, high-fat, high-calorie foods out of sight and out of mind. Use opaque, not see-through containers for these foods and keep them in less convenient spots. Transversely, make healthy snacks as convenient and visible as possible. Prepare them ahead of time, store them in highly visible see-through containers, and keep them front and center in your refrigerator. Remember, weight loss is not about denying yourself - it's about choosing something better for yourself.

#7. Reserve the Kitchen for Eating Only

Bigger plates require bigger kitchens to store them, so it's no surprise kitchens have grown a staggering 50% over the past 35 years! That's probably because they've evolved into a multi-use room, and many kitchens now have a desk, television and more. This can be tricky for someone struggling with weight.

Research shows that those who eat while watching TV not only eat more food in one sitting, but also eat more often than those who eat without the TV. Reserve your kitchen for cooking and eating, and you'll enjoy time spent both in and out of the kitchen that much more.

7 Kitchen Changes The Will Help You Lose Weight Infographic

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  • Wonderful post, Erin :)

  • Fantastic suggestions! I'm a big fan of taking a smaller plate - it's amazing how much that affects your perception of how much you're eating.

    I've heard that restaurants use low, red-or-orange-based lighting because that stimulates the appetite.

    You make a great point about clutter. I hadn't thought of it that way, but really, when the kitchen is a mess, the last thing I want to do is cook! I'll have to remind myself of this. Actually, probably not a bad idea to print this up and put it on the fridge...

  • Thanks, Jessica! :)

    Sticking to healthy foods is something I've become better at, but I love that there are visual tricks to make it easier on me. I've applied a lot of these to my own eating habits. Especially keeping healthy foods ready and visible in my fridge. A lot of times my food choices comes down to convenience. If I've already sliced and rinsed the veggies, I'm a lot more likely to pull them out when I'm hungry.

    I've also found spending time upstairs (farther away from the kitchen) at night as greatly reduced my nighttime snacking. When I go in the kitchen, even if I'm NOT hungry, even though I KNOW what's inside, I find myself browsing the cupboards and fridge. It's become instinctual. Putting myself farther from the kitchen after meals helps me avoid mindless eating.

  • haha I think we were writing at the same time! and thanks, Laura too! :D

  • Thanks for posting this Erin! So much great information. I've definitely gotten better lately about what I eat and how much I eat...except for the jimmy johns sub that I ate in one sitting yesterday :/ but that's an outlier!

    The plates I use at home are smaller than the average plate, so it really helps with portion control. Also, I prefer eating with a small fork and small spoon.

    Sweets are my downfall though. I absolutely love cookies, brownies, name it. So, I will have to try and control myself around this holiday season!

  • Bri - one nice thing about Jimmy John's is that they have all their nutrition information online. You can even add/remove ingredients, and they'll update the nutrition facts. It's really cool, and I think a lot of their subs are actually decently healthy :)

  • I'm a big fan of the smaller plate trick. I have some really awesome, vibrant, colorful, and durable small plates that come sectioned into three parts. They're perfect for smaller meals or two dips and healthy chips or veggies.

    My friends are always shocked and amused at where I found the plates: the baby/toddler aisle at the store!

  • Thank you for posting this one. It is very helpful i think i will take this and print it off.

  • @Laura & Erin, I completely agree that a clean kitchen is a welcome kitchen. Certainly more fun to cook up a healthy dish when you do not face the obstacle of cleaning first :)

    As for dining on small plates, another great tip is to create a beautiful meal :) If I am simply making a snack, rather than throwing it on a big plate (or eating carrots out of the bag), I slice a variety of veggies (cucumbers, carrots, jicama...) w/ a wavy edge & serve them next to my small bowl of hummus or salsa for dipping - all on one colorful plate. This is an easy way to make your snack or meal look much larger. Plus, it helps make your snack a bit more special, ensuring you truly savor the experience.

  • I love this blog! Solid tips!

  • Great tips, I apply these every day, and it really helps! P.S. I love the German Shepherd in the yard playing! Hee...hee...

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