How to Set Up Your Food Environment to Favour Your Health Goals
How to Set Up Your Food Environment to Favour Your Health Goals

Weight loss is a very tough process, that requires continuous efforts. When you lose weight your body naturally will favor weight gain.1 Your body will try to compensate for the weight loss through decreasing metabolism, increasing hunger ques, and increasing the reward seeking behaviour for food, all in an effort to increase your caloric intake.1

A large influence on the number of calories you consume is based in your subconscious reward system for food. Your reward system is triggered by environmental, and emotional ques that trigger you to seek high calorie, low nutrient value foods that are often not the best choices for weight loss.2 This wanting is triggered constantly by the environmental ques, not only in our home, but also by our obesogenic environment. More than ever, we are constantly surrounded by unhealthy food choices both physically in our stores, but also through advertisements on the tv, and even on our smart phones! The only food environment we can have direct control over today, is our home food environment.

How can the home food environment trigger your eating? Have you had a bowl of candies sitting around after Halloween, or that plate of desserts in the kitchen you cannot take your eyes off of? The physical presence of food, and even the sight of food, can increase your thoughts about food, the more thoughts around food, the harder it will be to manage your intake of these foods. Upon beginning your healthy eating journey for weight loss, I highly recommend the first step to be creating a healthier food environment at home, that will be supportive of weight loss. Research has shown that improving your food environment at home can be a good first step in promoting healthier eating behaviours.3

My top 5 tips to create a healthier home food environment:

  • Out of sight out of mind: Leave tempting food away from your direct eyesight. Having food displays of treat foods, even some healthy high calorie foods such as nuts, and seeds can lead you to snacking on these foods unconsciously thought the day. Instead, display a healthy bowl of fruit, or cherry tomatoes, as these foods will be more in line with your health goals.
  • Portion high calorie snacks into single serve portions: Having large bags of nuts, chocolate, or other foods such as popcorn can lead to the over consumption of these foods. Instead place these snack foods in single serve ziplock bags, with a label on their nutrition content. This way, as you are having them as a snack you will know exactly how many calories you have consumed. This will also prevent mindless grazing of these foods.
  • Keep trigger foods outside of your home: If you enjoy ice-cream, having a large tub at home can trigger you to consume this food more often than is ideal for your health goals. Instead, if you decide to have Ice-cream as a treat, plan a trip to the ice-cream shop. Having a barrier to actually physically have to make a trip to get ice-cream can aid in reducing the cravings for that food.
  • Be aware of the impact of variety: Have you ever been to a buffet, and ended up eating more than you would eat at a regular restaurant? This is because as humans, the more variety we have the more likely we are to eat more of those foods. To create a healthier food environment at home, decreasing the variety of less healthy options, and increasing the variety of more healthy options including a variety of fruit, vegetables and healthy snacks, is an easy way to make the healthy choice the easier choice!
  • Trick your eyes-Trial using smaller plates and utensils at home, and when you can, when dining away from home. Using a smaller plate will create the illusion that you are consuming a larger portion of food and can trick your eyes to register that more food has been eaten. Similarly, using smaller utensils can aid in slower eating, therefore the food has a chance to trigger your fullness ques.
  1. Blomain, E. S., Dirhan, D. A., Valentino, M. A., Kim, G. W., & Waldman, S. A. (2013). Mechanisms of Weight Regain following Weight Loss. ISRN obesity2013, 210524.
  2. Egecioglu, E., Skibicka, K. P., Hansson, C., Alvarez-Crespo, M., Friberg, P. A., Jerlhag, E., Engel, J. A., & Dickson, S. L. (2011). Hedonic and incentive signals for body weight control. Reviews in endocrine & metabolic disorders12(3), 141–151.
  3. Kegler, M. C., Haardörfer, R., Alcantara, I. C., Gazmararian, J. A., Veluswamy, J. K., Hodge, T. L., Addison, A. R., & Hotz, J. A. (2016). Impact of Improving Home Environments on Energy Intake and Physical Activity: A Randomized Controlled Trial. American journal of public health106(1), 143–152.
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