Step Back from the Snack! 9 Ways to Organize Your Kitchen So You Stop Overeating
Did you know that willpower is a finite resource? The more you flex control in one area, the harder it is to rein in your urges in another. Organize your kitchen right and you’ll say no to mindless eating and overeating without even trying—giving you the strength to say no when it really counts.
1. Get Rid of Clutter
What does cutting down on clutter have to do with overeating? More than you would think. “Less stuff tends to give you more happiness, and this definitely applies to snack food,” says Janine Adams, owner of Peace of Mind Organizing. “If you bring less snack food home, you’ll have less temptation, less clutter, and more ease in putting food away. When you have a place for food items, you know what you have, so there’s less of a tendency to buy duplicates.”
2. Make Temptations Invisible
Researchers at Cornell University who were studying temptation found that people ate less candy from opaque bowls than clear ones—and even less when the opaque bowls were placed across the room. The lesson? See food, eat food. Stash candy and other treats in opaque bowls or, better yet, keep them out of sight. And good-for-you foods like fruits? Tempt yourself to indulge more by showcasing fresh produce in a gorgeous see-through bowl (like this beauty) in can’t-miss locations like your dining table.
3. Get Your Hand Out of the Box
“Don’t eat straight from a bag or container,” says Barbara Reich, owner of Resourceful Consultants. We’ve all mindlessly munched on a bag of chips, only to find its contents mysteriously gone. Or evened out a cake. Or leveled off a pint of ice cream. Instead of zoning out (and wasting calories), put what you’re having on a plate, she says. Not only can you gauge portion size, you’ll savor your food and be satisfied with less.
4. But What’s a Portion Size?
Do you know how small a serving size of cereal is? Probably not—most of us indulge in two or three times that without even realizing it. Learn what a portion size is by reading nutrition labels. Weigh and measure out the right amount, then package food into snack-size containers or bags so that you know when to stop eating, Adams says.
5. Switch to Smaller Plates
We all have big eyes. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people eat more when they are offered larger portions, without even realizing it. The bigger the dish, the more likely we are to fill it—and join the clean plate club. So, swap out oversized plates and bowls for stylish ones that are scaled down, even if it’s just for one meal a day. While it’s definitely a mind trick, dining from small bowls and appetizer-sized plates will make you feel more satisfied eating less.
6. Put the Good Stuff Front and Center
Studies have shown that when people are hungry, they eat what they see first, Reich says. “So, make sure healthy choices are in the front of the refrigerator.” For example, give pre-sliced seasonal veggies—stored ready-to-eat in clear, vacuum-sealed containers—a premium, eye-level spot in your fridge. When pangs strike, you’ll likely reach for them first and effortlessly resist the greasy charms of last night’s take-out.
7. Play Hard to Get
If you want a cookie bad enough, there’s nothing that will stand between you and your sugar fix. But if that sugar fix—be it cookies, cake, pretzels, chocolate—is stored on an upper shelf, requiring a step stool for access, you won’t “accidentally” take a mindless nibble. “Reorganize your pantry, placing the biggest temptations in hard-to-reach spots,” suggests author and cleaning expert Debbie Sardone. “Keep healthy snacks (raw almonds, rice cakes, fiber bars) on the most visible shelves so they become the first things you grab when you have the urge to munch.”
8. Splurge on a Great Spice Rack
Herbs and spices add flavor without calories, so indulge in a brand new spice rack and fill it with both favorite and exotic options. Cinnamon, for example, adds sweetness without sugar and can help control blood sugar, while spicy spices add punch to dishes without extra fat. This Lipper 2-tier bamboo and metal spice tower is not only neat and chic, it swivels for easy access to 18 spices.
9. Play With a Cool New Toy
Food should be fun! Healthy eating tools like hand mixers, juicers, crock pots, and oil-less fryers (dieting magic!) make eating about exploration and enjoyment, not deprivation. Keep your shiny new toys in an easy-access spot to encourage you to try new recipes. Your body—and taste buds—will thank you.
Ready to change your life? With just a few minor tweaks in your kitchen, you’ll look and feel better without even trying. And that’s definitely worth the effort.