If youâ€™re struggling with healthy eating, managing stress is of course a great solution. (Poor eating habits are hardly the only harmful effect of undermanaged stress.) But thatâ€™s not easy, and besides, research also shows that willpower doesnâ€™t actually go all that far in helping us manage our diets. Weâ€™re incredibly susceptible to our environments.
It might not sound like it, but this is in fact excellent news! Why? You can get yourself to eat more healthily by just changing whatâ€™s around you. Read on for a few brilliant ways to circumvent your tendency to sabotage your food choices and portion size choices.
1. Keep treats out of sight and reach. Youâ€™re much more likely to snack on food if you can see it. One study found that female office workers ate the most chocolate if it was in a clear, within-reach container, and the least chocolate if it was in an opaque, out-of-reach container. So donâ€™t make that cookie jar glass, and definitely donâ€™t keep it on the counter: store those goodies in a cabinet (and maybe even toward the very back)!
2. Use a small plate. The bigger the serving vessel, the more youâ€™ll eat, even if you donâ€™t like the food all that much. So serve yourself on a small bowl or plate. If youâ€™re genuinely hungry when youâ€™re finished, you can always go back for more.
3. Choose your plate colour wisely. In one study, participants ate less cookies and popcorn when they were served on red plates. But other research shows that when the color of the food matches the color of the plate, we eat more. So go for that red plateâ€”unless youâ€™re eating pasta with tomato sauce.
4. Pick restaurants with softer music and lighting. It wonâ€™t change what you order, but itâ€™ll change how much you eat: research shows we eat 18 percent less in the very same restaurant if the music and lighting are softer. For that matter, try turning down the lights at the dinner table at homeâ€”and, if youâ€™ve been blasting the tunes, turn the volume down, too!
5. Train yourself with an avatar. Okay, this oneâ€™s a little more obscure. But if women play a video game in which an avatar slims down when she eats carrots and gains weight when she eats candy, theyâ€™re more likely to eat less candy. The key? The avatar has to look like the player. This also works for exercising: watching personalized avatars run on a treadmill gets us up and at â€˜em, too. So if youâ€™re a gamer, inspire yourself by customizing your avatar to look like you!