Imagine two kitchens. One has a big bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter, sliced vegetables and bottles of cold water in the fridge and less healthy snacks hidden out of sight on the top shelf in the pantry. The second kitchen has a packet of chocolate biscuits propped up by the kettle, a bottle of soft drink in the fridge and the only vegetables are found hidden in the bottom drawer of the freezer.
Which kitchen will make it easier to maintain healthy habits? Most of us would agree that the kitchen with readily available fruit, vegetables and water might make it easier to make healthy decisions. After all, the healthy options are visible and readily available, and the less healthy options are out of sight and take more effort to get to.
So for the best chance of success when it comes to reaching health and lifestyle goals, aim to change the surroundings to make it as easy as possible to make the healthiest choice.
Spend time clearing up areas where most time is spent. Why? One study found that women who spent time in a cluttered, chaotic environment (in this study, they used a messy kitchen) ate 100 calories more worth of cookies compared to women who spent time in a clean kitchen. So clear out office drawers and tidy up the junk cupboard. Bonus, all the extra incidental activity when cleaning can help with staying active!
Keep less healthy foods out of sight, and make it more difficult to get to them. Store them in an opaque container, on high shelves or at the bottom of the freezer. Simply keeping these foods out of sight makes them less convenient and accessible, meaning they are less likely to be eaten. Better yet, throw those foods out the house if possible.
Research has shown that more food is eaten when someone is distracted. So choose a place in the home or at work where meals can be eaten without distraction. Turn off TV’s, radios and put mobile phones away. When eating, focus on the meal, using mindful eating techniques to slow down and enjoy the food. Mindful eating can also help with weight loss.
Make it easier to make healthy choices by filling the kitchen with plenty of healthy foods that are easy to eat.
If there is a period in the next few weeks or months when things will be busy (maybe work gets busy before tax time, or one partner does FIFO) consider things that can help during those times.
By reducing the workload, it means there is more time and energy to focus on reaching healthy lifestyle goals.
Friends and family can be your worst enemies when trying to lose weight. It can be unintentional, or because your efforts remind them of their own less than healthy habits, or because they feel that your actions will restrict their eating in some way. They can make life very difficult for you if you let them. Engage their support from the beginning by explaining your goals and motives and by telling them how much their encouragement and help would mean and they, too, may benefit from your new recipes and ideas. Talking about ‘gaining health’ and the benefits that will bring may be more positive and persuasive than ‘losing weight’. If you know someone who is a good role-model, engage their help. Chances are they will feel flattered to have been asked and will be very keen to assist.
Identify potential hazards in your workplace. These may include the work canteen, vending machines/snack boxes, or regular routines such as staff morning teas or office shouts; once identified, plan coping strategies for each.
If you’re looking for some extra support in your approach to weight loss, Rosemary Health can help. We have doctor guided weight loss programs that consider your lifestyle, goals and your approach to food and wellbeing. Learn more about our doctor-guided weight loss program.