In his book Slim By Design, Brian Wansink of Cornell University Food and Brand Lab talks about how the subtlest external cues can influence our tendency to eat mindlessly. He believes that with a few tweaks in your kitchen's physical environment you can be reminded to make healthier choices more consistently.
Wansink has provided this sort of "checklist" (PDF) that will guide you toward making your home environment more conducive to healthy eating. You'll find tips like eating from smaller plates; placing a bowl of fresh fruit plainly visible in the kitchen; keeping junk food out of sight (and out of reach); and keeping the TV turned off while you eat. These familiar-sounding tips are based on food psychology and work by manipulating your environment to let you continue eating "mindlessly." At the same time, you end up making better choices without needing to tap into your willpower much or at all.
People often do not believe they can be so easily influenced by external cues, or at least downplay their impact. We've written about some of these subtle influences, including how the items found on your kitchen counter correlate to weight and how restaurant menus can play tricks on you. I definitely found myself wanting to snack on more junkfood when they were readily available and easy to access.
According to Wansink, we make over 200 food-related decisions every day, many of which are made without conscious thought. While we can't rely on willpower alone to help us make the smarter decisions every time, we can at least make the effort to structure our environment to help us "mindlessly" make the better choices for us. Give it a try.
[Via Tech Insider]