Whether you know it or not, your environment can help to shape your behavior. With that said, environmental cues, however subtle, can modify your habits. For example, minor adjustments to your environment and surroundings can lead to better choices regarding your health and habits.
Want to know how you can mindlessly eat better? Follow these tips from Cornell University professor Brian Wansink, who has conducted various studies on how your environment can shape your eating decisions.
Use Smaller Plates
While it may not seem like much, using smaller plates can trick you into feeling more satisfied. Think you can just use a bigger plate and just put a smaller portion on it? Think again. The same amount of food on a small plate versus a bigger plate makes a difference. When you see a small portion on a bigger plate, your mind will feel unsatisfied. However, that same portion on a smaller plate may fill it up more, tricking your mind into thinking that it is a heartier portion. Thus, the same meal can seem more satisfying. Also, studies have shown that over the course of a year, if you use smaller plates, you will have eaten 22% less food.
Keep Water Accessible
Rather than having that coffee or soda at your desk, try keeping a water bottle close at hand. Instead of sipping sugar or caffeine, you can increase your water intake throughout the day. Not only will you decrease, or maybe even eliminate, sodas or sugary drinks from your diet, but you can improve your hydration with this simple swap.
Use Tall, Slender Glasses
Similar to the smaller plate tip, this one is another optical illusion. Our brains have a tendency to overestimate vertical lines. Therefore, drinks in tall, slender glasses look bigger than round horizontal mugs, despite the contents being the same. So if you’re trying to cut back on soda or sugary drinks, serve it in a tall, slender glad. You will typically drink 20% less from these types of glasses.
Contrast The Colors Of Your Plate & Food
If the color of your plate matches the color of your food, you will serve yourself more because your brain has a hard time distinguishing the portion size from the plate. Because of this, you may want to match your plates to healthier foods to increase your intake. For example, a dark green plate will likely blend with leafy greens, but will contrast foods like pasta or potatoes.
Keep Healthy Foods On Display
By keeping healthy foods on display, you’re more likely to reach for them when you’re hungry or in a rush. It might be a good idea to keep healthy snacks near your car keys, front door, or any spot that you frequent before you leave the house.
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
In keeping with the theme, if you keep healthy foods more accessible and easily seen, you will likely forget about the unhealthy snacks you have. This is precisely why it is advised that you store healthy foods in plastic wrap, and unhealthy foods in tin foil. When you’re looking for a quick snack or meal in your fridge, those wrapped in plastic wrap are easy to see and grab, whereas foil-wrapped foods must be taken out and unwrapped to discover its contents. Because there is more effort, you are likely to choose healthy, plastic-wrapped food instead.
Furthermore, you should also pack healthy foods in large packages and unhealthy foods in small packages. Why? Because large packages tend to intrigue us, and, when it comes to storage, they are more easily seen and can get in the way. This will force you to notice them, and be more likely to eat them. Keeping unhealthy food in smaller containers may help you keep these tempting treats out of sight and out of mind. Also, you can repackage any unhealthy foods into smaller Ziploc bags or containers, which helps to prevent binging and encourage portion control.
“Half Plate” Rule
The “half plate” rule means that when you serve yourself a meal, start by filling half of your plate with fruits or vegetables, or both. Then fill the rest of your plate with other foods. It is like an easier way to impose portion control, while still allowing you to eat healthier foods.
“Outer Ring” Grocery shopping
The outer perimeter of the grocery store tends to house all the healthy food (ex. fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts). If you refrain from perusing through the aisles and spend your time in the outer ring, you will likely buy more healthy foods.
If you’ve noticed, most of these tips require you to add more steps to the behavior you want to decrease. While these tips focus on healthy eating habits, these general strategies can be applied to other areas of your life.
Trying to kick a bad habit? Make it harder for you to accomplish by adding extra steps to reach that desired outcome. Want to adopt a healthy habit? Decrease the steps it takes for you to reach that goal.
Have you tried out any of these tips? Which ones have worked for you? Do you have any other tips to share? Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can also find and follow us on Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.
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