HEALTH

A few smart but sim­ple tweaks to the way you pre­pare and store food can lead to health­ier eat­ing.

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Find out if your kitchen is mak­ing you fat.

IT’S EASY TO BE con­fused by all the con­tra­dic­tory health and di­etary in­for­ma­tion we’re bom­barded with daily. While most of us in­stinc­tively know what we should be eat­ing – real food, not too much of it and plenty of fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles – temp­ta­tions, habits and mind­less eat­ing of­ten lead us astray.

But with­out us re­al­is­ing, our kitchens could also be work­ing against our ef­forts to be healthy. By the same to­ken, a smart kitchen can en­cour­age smart choices and even lead to weight loss.

The ex­perts ex­plain how….

BE­WARE THE DIS­PLAY

Food psy­chol­o­gist and au­thor of Slim

By De­sign (slim­by­de­sign.com), Dr Brian Wansink, has re­searched how “mind­less eat­ing” habits can be chan­nelled into mak­ing bet­ter health choices.

“One thing we’ve found is any food that’s on your kitchen bench is more likely to be eaten than food which isn’t,” he says. “Our study showed if you have chips or bis­cuits on your kitchen bench, you weigh about 4.5kg more than your neigh­bour who doesn’t. If you have break­fast ce­real vis­i­ble any­where on the bench, you’re go­ing to weigh about 9kg more than your neigh­bour.”

Con­versely, hav­ing healthy foods on dis­play can pro­duce mea­sur­able health ben­e­fits. “Peo­ple with fruit bowls weigh al­most 6kg less than their neigh­bour who doesn’t,” says Brian. “It’s like you see it and go, that’s an idea, I’ll have an ap­ple.”

Zoe Bin­g­ley-Pullin, celebrity chef, nutritionist and founder of Fall­ing in Love with Food (zoe­bin­g­ley­pullin.com) says a well-main­tained kitchen can con­trib­ute to health­ier choices. “Keep­ing the kitchen clean and free of mess avoids feel­ings of over­whelm and chaos, which can lead to poor food choices or opt­ing to call the lo­cal take­away store.”

SMARTEN UP YOUR STOR­AGE

How and where food is stored can have a huge im­pact on di­etary choices – those same tricks that su­per­mar­kets use to en­cour­age us to buy are also at play in our own kitchens. “Avoid stor­ing ‘treats’ at eye level so when reach­ing for a snack, treats aren’t right be­fore your eyes,” sug­gests Zoe, a trick that

Brian says is backed by sci­ence.

“You’re three times more likely to eat the first food you see than you are the fifth food you see,” he says. “Our re­search shows one of the most ba­sic – and eas­i­est – changes to make is en­sur­ing the first foods you see when open­ing your fridge or pantry are the healthy ones you want to eat more of.”

Brian says this might mean tak­ing fruit and ve­g­ies out of the crisper and putting them right in the cen­tre shelf of the fridge, while chips and treats are stashed in a hard-to-ac­cess cup­board.

A kitchen well-stocked with healthy foods will al­ways lead to health­ier eat­ing choices and, to help you achieve this, Zoe sug­gests keep­ing a shop­ping list in a handy spot (such as on the fridge door), writ­ing down ex­actly what you need to pur­chase each week and only buy­ing what is on the list to avoid im­pulse buys.

PLATE UP – OR DOWN

Even the size of our plates can in­flu­ence weight gain or loss be­cause it has a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the size of the por­tions you serve up, even though you may not be aware of it.

“Our re­search has shown you serve your­self in pro­por­tion to the size of the plate you’re serv­ing on,” ex­plains Brian. “You might put 85g on a 25cm plate, but if that plate is a lit­tle big­ger, say 30cm, you’ll add about 22% more.”

In ad­di­tion to be­ing aware of por­tion size rel­a­tive to plate size, Brian rec­om­mends pre-plat­ing food di­rectly from the stove rather than hav­ing a big bowl sit­ting at the din­ing table, cit­ing an 18% re­duc­tion in food eaten.

CUTE CLAS­SICS Vegetable

$15 for set of 3, from Kmart.

WELL SEALED Altu mar­ble lid box, $24.95, from Amalfi Home­wares.

CLEAR VIEW Bo­dum Presso stor­age jar, 1L, $26.95, from Kitchen Ware­house.

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