Cornell University is home to the Food and Brand Lab whose research focuses on better understanding consumers and how they relate to foods and packaged foods. Brian Wansink, the leading expert in food behavior, who just released a new book, titled Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, heads the lab. In his book, he looks at how the design of restaurants, supermarkets, lunchroom and home kitchens can trigger mindless eating which in turn can lead to weight gain. Did you know that the color of your kitchen or how comfortable it is might make you eat more?
Here are 7 tips, from Wansink, on how to makeover your kitchen to decrease mindless eating:
Find Another Entrance-Believe it or not, people who open the door and land right in the kitchen weigh more than those people who enter through another door. If you can’t redesign your doorway, make another door your main entrance.
Be Color Boring -Most people like white or cream kitchens (I have cream cabinets), but those colors stimulate your taste buds, making you eat more. But if you go too dark and have low lighting your eating slows down which usually leads to more eating. He suggests colors such as gold, earthy greens and blues, tans and his kitchen color, pumpkin.
Don’t Make It Too Comfortable-Yes, the kitchen is the hub of the home where homework gets done, messages and events get posted, TV gets watched and meaningful conversations take place between you and your 15-year-old son. But all of those things lead to more time in the kitchen, which leads to more time around food and eventually more eating. So don’t put comfy chairs, a TV or design a built-in desk in your kitchen and instead make it a place to store food and cook it.
Design For Cooking Ease-Things like where your sink is located in relation to your fridge, where the microwave is placed (if you even have one) and how much lighting you have all have an effect on how much and what you cook at home. If you have adequate space, lighting and a convenient workflow, you are more likely to cook fresh foods at home.
Get Rid Of The Clutter-Mail, newspapers, magazines, backpacks, cutting boards and even a blender all contribute to mindless eating. Wansink found that people with a cluttered kitchen ate 44% more snack foods than those who had an organized and decluttered one. So make sure you have adequate cabinet storage and “stuff drop” location away from the kitchen. And food counts as clutter too. Put all food items away except for fruit. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” is true when it comes to mindless eating.
Rearrange Your Food Storage-It has been shown that we reach for the first thing we see so make sure that is a healthier food. Put your fruits in vegetables on the top shelf of the fridge not in the crisper and the chips at the back of the pantry. If possible, move your “pantry” to the basement or to a closet away from the kitchen. You’ll have to walk a few more steps and be less likely to just snack mindlessly.
Downsize Your Plates-The bigger the plate, the more food you need to put on it to make it look full. Trade your 12-inch plates for 10-inch plates (I have 12-inch square plates that have 10-inch circular depression in the middle in which to put the food so I call it a 10-inch plate.), and make sure your plates are a color that contrast with the majority of the meal you make. If your food and plate are the same color, you’re likely to serve yourself 18% more food. White plates provide the greatest contrast by showing off your culinary creations.
By making a few design changes, your kitchen could actually make you a healthier and happier eater. And wouldn’t that be the best return on your investment!