Habit is often simplified to “if I do something enough times, I’ll just get used to it and then I’ll do it automatically”. However, anyone who has tried to get into a healthy new habit knows that even after the 100th great salad, chocolate still tastes fantastic. Conveniently, in the case of eating at home, there are ways to make the kitchen work for your habit, instead of against it. Here are some tips that require minimal purchase or and no major home construction – yet immediately can yield results for your whole family.
- Hide it away.
Image via J Flinchbaugh on Flickr
This isn’t complex. It is simple out of sight, out of mind theory. Here you have a big ol’ bag of candy that you put up on the counter, in full view of all its passerby. You know even if you make it past the first lap in front of it, by the third or fourth time you pass it you definitely are grabbing for a piece. It’s not necessarily your lack of self control – it’s just right there. Once you know it’s not just you, a solution is immediately obvious. Just put it away. High shelf, back of the pantry, it doesn’t matter. Just somewhere you aren’t going to see it, and somewhere you need to make the effort to reach for. The major appeal of junk food is how effortless it is. It is all good to go and tastes great without you having to put an ounce of work into it. If you need to make an effort, even the effort of crawling to the back of the pantry to get it, you’re drastically less likely to eat it on the daily.
- Put the good stuff up front.
Image via The Amanda on Flickr
This is the counterpart to the first hack. Instead of just leaving the space empty where the now-hidden candy was, put some nice fresh produce or some healthy snacks like nuts or whole grain items. Suddenly they’re right there looking all good and before you know it, you’re bringing an apple to work, look at you! Good job, you.
- Glass the place up.
Image via Maya83 on Flickr
Google recently did a study with its employees after they found that the candy jars in their common areas were being depleted at an alarming rate. The simple experiment was to just replace the opaque plastic candy jars with clear glass jars. The astonishing result? Google Headquarters 2,000 employees ate a staggering 3.1 million (that’s right) less calories in 7 weeks. That’s around 9 vending machine sized M & M bags per person in the office. That’s so insane.
- Get a new perspective.
Image via Ali Arda on Flickr
Moving the dining table or breakfast table to face a different direction can instantly put you in a different mindset. Not seeing that seconds are just seconds away (even though they may be) will give your mind a cleaner slate and allow you to think about other things.
- Keep it clean.
I don’t know how many times I’ve come home at night, taken a look at my nightmare hole of a kitchen and said “No. I can’t deal with this tonight. Guess it’s pizza again”. Have a cleaner kitchen ups the likelihood that you might actually cook something, because it will be a nicer user experience. Also, the process of cooking will be more streamlined, so you spend less time thinking about how hungry you are and how much you wish it was done, so you don’t go snacking on things in the mean time.
Image via David23 on Flickr
- Make it uncomfortable.
Okay, you don’t have to put spikes on the counter tops, but you don’t have to put a sofa in the kitchen. Make it a room that is awesome, but you get it and out of as fast as possible. It doesn’t mean it can’t be fantastic and beautiful, but it doesn’t have to have a chaise lounge in the middle of it.
Image via Kerry Ann Dame on Flickr
- Shed some light on the situation.
Lighting can make a huge difference. Instead, crank up the lights. You want to be able to see what’s going on, what you are eating, and if you actually want to be doing the thing that you are doing. Also, per the above post, low lighting makes you comfortable – and we don’t want to be doing that.
Shed some light on the situation can also mean setting realistic goals for yourself – what can you actually accomplish with your current lifestyle and schedule? Set some goals, and take a good look at how you are actually making steps to achieve them. Don’t think that using something like a supplement is cheating, especially if you are just using it as a supplementary boost while actively pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Hydroxycut uses natural ingredients like mint extract and lady’s mantle.
Image via DiamondTech on Flickr
- Use Technology as a Guide.
Here comes the app talk guys. That’s right, you knew it was coming. Calorie counting apps. Whether it be just for you or for the family you’re trying to keep on track, you can’t get more efficient than calorie counting apps at seeing how you are affecting your body with food. Cooking Light has an awesome app that actually adds calories as you put ingredients into your home cooked meal. This way, you can possibly experiment with ingredient replacements. See, it can be fun and not terrible!
Image via HostingCoupons on Flickr
- Grow your own.
If you go ahead and grow your own tomato, suddenly it becomes something so much more than a tomato. It is a symbol of your power, your determination, your ability to grow at tomato! After all that, you’re going to want to taste the delicious fruits and veggies of your labor.
Image via MidgeyMoo on Flickr
- Small plates.
This isn’t a new tip, but I love it because it works. Put your food on smaller plates, and immediately make it feel like you are eating more. And then eat less as a result. Case closed, you’re gonna rock this.
Image via Ulterior Epicure on Flickr