This summer, we have developed a mild obsession with the herb garden. It’s not the first time I’ve ever had one and the herbs are the same every year. What’s different, though, is their proximity to my kitchen. Instead of planting my basil, oregano, parsley and thyme in the vegetable garden, we put them in a pot, on the deck, within arm’s reach of my kitchen door. If you saw the size of my yard, you’d know this was not a monumental distance move. But now I don’t have to get a bowl, put on my shoes, go into the yard, walk back when I forget my scissors, head back out, etc. In my head, it made my cooking process so much easier, and me much more likely to use the fresh, healthy herbs instead of a sodium-filled seasoning packet.
Sometimes a simple reorganization or swap can make a difference in how you cook and eat. Research conducted at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab has shown time and time again that changing your surroundings can help you make better choices and lose weight. Try these three moves at home:
Keep munchies off the counter. People who had potato chips on their kitchen counter weighed almost 10 pounds more than people with bare countertops, according to one study. Those who kept breakfast cereal visible weighed about 20 pounds more. Instead, display healthier fare: research shows people who keep a filled fruit bowl weigh 8 pounds less than their neighbors.
Use smaller plates. The bigger it is, the more you serve yourself, and the more you eat. In one experiment, nutrition professors and graduate students were invited to an ice cream social and given different sized scoops and bowls. Those who used the biggest ones took more than twice as much ice cream as those who used the small scoops and bowls.
Serve dinner off the stove. It’s easier to go for seconds, or even thirds, if the serving platter is sitting right in front of you. Simply keeping food about six feet away typically cuts how much people eat by about 20 percent.