Change Your Surroundings, Change Your Plate - Part One

Posted On Sep 17, 2013 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

Change Your Food Surroundings

Do you ever find yourself grazing through the pantry after seeing an ad for food on the tube, noshing on snacks while driving, or being tempted by the candy dish on a coworker's desk?  What we chose to surround ourselves with is partly within our control but some environment triggers cannot be avoided.  Becoming aware of your environment and surroundings and how you chose to respond can make a huge difference in making changes to your eating habits. The most common "trouble" areas are the car and home.  Let's take a look at these two areas and how you can set up your surroundings to ensure success.  Ever heard the idea that in order to be successful in life you have to surround yourself with successful people? The same goes for diet and nutrition. You have to set up your surroundings to be conducive to healthy eating in order to be successful with it.

The Home

  • Don't bring tempting foods into your home.  Sounds simple enough, right? If you don't put it in the cart at the grocery store, you can't eat it at home.
  • Keep food in cupboards, pantry and the fridge.  Besides a fruit bowl, don't keep food on counters.  Out of sight, out of mind works!
  • Serve food from the kitchen countertop or stove.  Avoid putting serving dishes on the table.  You're much more likely to take second helpings if the food is within arms-reach.
  • Eat at the table. Research shows that if you eat in front of the TV you'll eat more because you're mindlessly eating.
  • Wash and cut fruits and veggies to have them ready to eat all week.  Have them visible when you open your fridge door.
  • Find an activity to do following meal time that prevents you from eating out of boredom.  If you find yourself searching through the kitchen after dinner (which is common for many people), plan to go for a walk, take a shower, make a phone call, or engage in an activity that you can't eat while doing.

The Car

  • Seeing billboards, hearing radio ads, or driving by restaurants is a common trigger for many people. Keep gum and water in your car or pack a healthy snack, such as an apple, almonds, string cheese, or carrots to keep hunger and temptation at bay.
  • Pack a single snack if you're out running errands all day, traveling, or you know it's going to be difficult to eat a regular meal.  Keep your snacks stored in the trunk to avoid eating snacks because they're easily accessible in the front seat.

There are many more environmental challenges and triggers. Start by paying close attention to where, how, what, and when you eat. Identify any patterns or unhealthy habits and then focus on making the healthy choice the easy choice.

Next month, we'll look at two more environmental triggers: people and the workplace.