In his new book, Slim by Design, eating-behavior expert Brian Wansink shows us how to get our kitchens working better
Your kitchen might be the workhorse room in your home, but it also might be working against you and your waistline. That’s the scenario Brian Wansink (pictured) — a professor at Cornell University and the director of Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab, where he’s the leading expert in eating behavior — presents in his new book, Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life (September 23, 2014, HarperCollins, $26.99).
The book is divided into chapters on how the design of restaurants, supermarkets, lunchrooms and our home kitchens affects our mindless eating habits, those triggers that cause us to eat more, snack more and eventually gain weight.
Have an all-white kitchen? Do you keep cereal in view? Got a TV and big comfy chairs in your kitchen? Then you’ve got several booby traps that might cause you to eat more without even realizing it.
“Things aren’t determined by our tastebuds’ being fixed,” Wansink says. “It’s factors around us. Color, light, the size of our plates, a cereal box — knowing how these things influence us, we can reengineer our environments to mindlessly eat better and eat less instead of relying on willpower alone.”
1. Take all food off the counter unless it’s fruit. In what’s referred to as the Syracuse study, Wansink and his research team visited 240 homes and measured and photographed everything. They documented plate size, whether there were TVs in the kitchen, spice racks, radios, you name it.
After eight months of analyzing the photos and data, one of the things they found was that food on the counter is really bad. Women who had a box of cereal visible anywhere on average weighed 21 pounds more than a neighbor who didn’t.
In another study the team moved the candy dishes from on top of the desks of 40 administrative assistants to inside their desks. The average assistant ate 74 fewer calories each day. “The equivalent of not gaining 5 or 6 pounds over the next year,” Wansink writes. “The best thing you can do is not to have food sitting out in the kitchen, unless it rhymes with roots and wedgies.”
7 Ways to Design Your Kitchen to Help You Lose Weight