“Don’t let me eat any more of these!”
This is probably a phrase you’ve heard before. In fact, if you’re anything like us, it’s probably one you’ve said before. And after saying these words, we’d guess that most of us do one (or both) of the following:
- Push the bowl of whatever “these” are away
- Toss a napkin over said bowl
And according to several studies, we’re actually onto something here.
Believe or not, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the farther away a snack food is, the less of it we’ll eat. Even pushing something an extra 50 cm away can be the difference between hundreds of fewer consumed calories in just one sitting.
There’s even a fancy name for this phenomenon. It’s called the food proximity effect.
As for the tossing of the napkin trick? Turns out, we are also significantly less likely to eat food we can’t see.
Which means we’re more likely to grab a doughnut from an opened box than from a closed one. It can be that subtle. And yet those extra calories really add up over the days, into the weeks, into the years.
So as you can see, there’s a common trend here:
Our environment drastically influences the food we consume.
Since environmental factors, such as a food’s location and visibility, have such an impact on what we eat, we think it’s important to change the diet conversation to focus a little more on our food surroundings.
In other words, we’d like to see the conversation revolve a little less around which foods to avoid, and a little more on how to avoid them.
Because when you’re tired, stressed, starving, or all three (the dreaded hat-trick of diet failure) knowing that you shouldn’t eat a bag of chips before lunch isn’t what’s going to help you not eat a bag of chips before lunch.
Not having the bag of chips in sight? Or better yet, having an easy-to-grab, pre-sliced baggie of apples (or, hey, maybe even a green juice!) close by? Now that’s helpful.
Currently, anywhere between 65-95% of diets fail, depending on whom you ask. To us, those statistics reveal something important: the way our society currently approaches the topic of healthy eating just isn’t working.
Some quick tips: how to set our environments up for success
Setting your environment up for success is all about making it more convenient to eat healthy foods and less convenient to eat the unhealthy ones.
Here are some quick tips to help us all achieve those two goals:
Move fruits & veggies out of the fruit & veggie drawers.
We know- gasp! But that’s where they go! Keep in mind: you want all of the healthy food to appear front & center in the fridge. Because the food you see first is the stuff you’ll grab in a pinch.
Move all unhealthy foods into those drawers.
Let the leftover pizza and Chinese food be the food items you end up throwing away after two weeks of forgetting they were there!
Remove any unhealthy snacks from counters.
Replace with a bowl of fruit.
Put all junk food in a difficult to reach spot, like a high cabinet
Out of sight, out of mind, out of – well– mouth.
Pre-cut and peel all fruits & veggies.
Doing this right when you get back from the grocery store, before putting anything in the fridge, is the best way to guarantee you’ll get it done.
We hope this helps encourage us all to start focusing a little more on the importance of tweaking our food environments so that we can set our diets up for success.
Until next week, stay healthy!