The way you feng shui your kitchen—from décor to dishes—can help or hurt your weight loss journey. Read this before you unload your dishwasher!
If you were to take a guess at all the things in your kitchen that could cause you to gain weight, you'd probably point to your stash of candy in the pantry or the half-eaten carton of ice cream in the freezer. But the real culprit could be something way more subtle: New studies are proving that the way you organize your counters, your pantry, and your cabinets can influence your appetite—and, ultimately, your waistline. The good news: You don't need to undergo an entire kitchen renovation to slim down. Try these reorganization tips for weight loss success. (Then, read up on 12 Tiny Expert-Backed Changes for Your Diet.)
1. Declutter your countertop. Raise your hand if you're guilty of storing food on your counters (because you're just going to take it back out of the cabinet tomorrow, right?). Here's a reason to put the food back in the pantry: Women who left a box of breakfast cereal on their countertops weighed 20 pounds more than those who didn't; women who stashed soda on their counters weighed 24 to 26 pounds more, according to a study of more than 200 kitchens in the Journal Health Education and Behavior. "It boils down to the fact that you eat what you see," said lead study author Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. "Even with something considered healthy like cereal, if you eat a handful every time you walk by, the calories add up." Consider it out of sight, out of mind.
2. Beware of cutesy kitchenware. Looking at cutely designed kitchen tools leads to more indulgent choices, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research. Participants who used a doll-shaped ice cream scooper doled out 22 percent more ice cream than those who used a regular scooper. "Playful products subconsciously cause us to let our guard down, so we're more prone to pursue self rewards like indulgent foods," explains study co-author Maura Scott, Ph.D., assistant marketing professor at Florida State University. If home goods are too cute to resist, encourage indulgence in healthier places, Scott suggests. Go for pretty salad tongs or a polka-dot water bottle to draw you into using them more. (We'd start with Cool New Cookware to Transform Your Kitchen.)
3. Place healthy foods in places that practically smack you in the face. Sure, there are days you would trek 10 miles to get your hands on a piece of chocolate, but most of the time we're programmed to eat what's most convenient. Women who had to walk six feet to get their hands on a piece of chocolate ate half the amount of chocolates than those with the candy front of them, according to study from Cornell University. The good news: "The same effect is true for healthier foods such as fruits or vegetables—the more convenient it is, the more likely you'll eat it," Wansink says. To reorganize for success, place prechopped veggies at eye level in your refrigerator, store healthy snacks as the first thing you see in your pantry, or set out a bowl of fruit on your kitchen table. Then, hide unhealthy stuff (we're looking at you, box of Oreos) on the highest shelves or in the farthest reach of your freezer (think: ice cream behind the bags of frozen peas).
4. Downsize your dinnerware. You already know that eating smaller portions is a smart move for weight loss, but eating off of smaller dishes makes it easier to stick with the right serving size. In fact, people who used 7-inch plates (around the size of a salad plate) ate 22 percent less than those who used a 10-inch dinner plate, according to a study in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Even nutritionists who used larger bowls served and ate 31 percent more ice cream than those who used smaller bowls. Next time you unload the dishwasher, place smaller sized bowls and plates on your go-to shelf in your cabinet; stash supersize ones out of reach. (And scope this Infographic of Serving Sizes for Your Favorite Healthy Foods.)
5. Use champagne glasses instead of tumblers. Here's an idea we can get on board with: Break out the champagne flutes to decrease the amount you consume in liquid calories. Bartenders poured 30 percent more into tumblers than into highball glasses, according to a study from the National Institute of Health. Since this concept can translate to any drink that delivers calories, use flutes or highball glasses for calorie-containing drinks, and stack the tumblers next to your water cooler.
6. Create an ambiance that lowers your appetite. Dimmed lighting and low music shouldn't be reserved only for date nights. When lighting and music were softened, diners ate fewer calories and also enjoyed their food more than when they ate with harsh lighting and loud music, according to a study from Cornell University. Recreate the ambiance at home by going for mood lighting and setting Pandora on a soothing station. Color can keep you slim too. Add splashes of red—dishtowels, plates, whatever!—to your kitchen. People ate 50 percent fewer chocolate chips when they were served on a red plate compared to a blue or white one, found a study in the journal Elsevier.
7. Make your stovetop your serve-station. If you typically serve your meal from your kitchen table, know this: Men and women ate 20 percent fewer calories when food was served from the countertop rather than their table, one study found. Trim even more calories by swapping your serving spoons for regular ones—you'll dish out an average of 15 percent less, according to a study from Cornell University. (P.S. Find out how to Curb Cravings Around the Clock.)