Make Your Home And Work Environments Weight-Loss-Friendly
Our expert: Andrew B. Geier, environmental psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who studies how surroundings influence what and how much you eat
Even with the healthiest foods, overeating won't move the scale--except perhaps up. "Many of my clients shop at health-food stores, yet they're still overweight," says Geier. "A skewed perception of portions is the enemy." Part of why we overeat is due to our environment. Everything from the diameter of your dinner plate to the size of an ice-cream carton plays a role in the amount you consume each day. Making a few changes will help.
Ban big spoons. In a recent study Geier put a large bowl of M&M's in the lobby of a building with a sign: "Eat Your Fill. Please use the spoon to serve yourself." The candy was put out each day for 10 days, sometimes with a spoon that held cup, other times with a tablespoon. Sure enough, people consistently took more M&M's on the days the bigger scoop was provided. "The size of the serving utensil determines the portion size we eat," he says. Once the food is on your plate, you're likely to eat most, if not all, of it. If you use small serving utensils, your portions will be more reasonable, and you'll eat less.
Be Wary Of Very Small Servings. Mini chocolates or tiny glasses of soda may seem like a good option for dieters, but Geier has found that if the portion size is too small, people eat several of the minis and end up with more than a regular-size equivalent. He calls it unit bias. In one study, participants picked up two 10-ounce glasses of soda in a cafeteria line. "We basically consume what we think is the right serving size," says Geier. "In this case the participants thought the small sodas looked like half a serving, so they took two."