Is Your Kitchen Making You Fat?

Is Your Kitchen Making You Fat? It’s tough to stick to a healthy, slimming diet when you’re not at home: Step outside your front door and you’re almost instantly surrounded by cheap, fast, tasty and fattening food that’s tough to pass by when you’re famished or short on time. My go-to choice: pizza! (I try to ask for it with half the cheese, twice the tomato sauce!) But under your own roof, where you stock the groceries and prepare the meals, eating well should be a relatively easy, right? Wrong. In fact, several studies show that your kitchen itself—not the food that goes in it—can make or break your weight loss efforts. Before you declare that your house is out to get you, know that is this great news—it means you don’t have to change your diet to start dropping pounds! Just try making these five totally free tweaks to your kitchen environment, and let the effortless slimming begin!

Dim the lights. Bright lights can raise your stress levels, ramping up your appetite and causing you to eat more quickly, according to research by Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, New York. The result: You end up finishing off a mega portion before you have the chance to feel satiated (it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that it’s full). For the best lighting over your kitchen table, swap your light switch for a dimmer.

Add a bouquet. A whiff of flowers may keep you from overindulging at supper. Smelling something inconsistent with what’s on your plate dampens your appetite, research shows. In another study by Wansink, people who were served plain oatmeal scented with apple and cinnamon ate more than those given oatmeal that smelled like macaroni and cheese. OK, no need for unappetizing combinations, but some slight sensory confusion—a fresh bouquet or a scented candle—might help you limit portions.

Use smaller bowls and spoons. We match our portions to our dinnerware. “A half cup of ice cream looks good in an 8-ounce bowl but wimpy in a 16-ounce one,” Wansink says. Size even fools the pros: When Wansink gave food experts bigger bowls, they ate 31 percent more ice cream; given bigger serving spoons, they ate 15 percent more. You don’t have to invest in a whole new set of dishes and cutlery (unless you’re in the mood to update your pattern, of course!); try setting the table with salad plates and spoons instead of dinner-sized ones.

Conceal your leftovers. You skipped that last slice of pizza to save calories, but every time you open the fridge, it calls your name. (OK, this is me and it’s calling my name!) Don’t set yourself up for temptation: Stash the slice in a fridge drawer or wrap it in foil to help you resist it until it’s mealtime again.

Leave dinner behind. Serving food family-style at the table makes you more likely to take seconds (or thirds). Sidestep that tendency by serving yourself before you sit down and leaving what’s left on the counter. In preliminary research, Wansink found that women who plated their food at the counter ate 10 percent less than those who ate family-style. One exception: Keep salad on the table—multiple helpings of healthy greens is never a bad idea! ( )

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