Creating A Healthy Environment

As Christmas approaches, I think we need a reminder that we will only be as successful as our environment lets us be. It is difficult this time of year when there are so many treats and goodies around but these tips should help you get control of the environment in your own home. By creating a healthy environment you are increasing the likelihood weight loss will occur. It has been proven that changing your environment will make change more likely.

Buying Your Food
You will eat what is available, so have healthy food available. This is a very simple principle, but it is crucial.
1. Plan weekly menus. These menus should be simple but enjoyable and realistic.
2. Always shop from a list.
3. Prepare the weekly list using our healthy grocery list. Never shop while hungry.
4. Prepare your menus and lists on a regular schedule.
5. Have a scheduled shopping day. This habit will free your time for exercise.
6. Avoid snack items you know are your weaknesses.
7. Buy snack items and other high quality foods that can be eaten with little preparation.
8. Buy foods to help you stick to your plan.
9. Avoid grocery aisles displaying your problem foods.

Storing Your Food
Make food visibility work for you.
1. Make low-calorie foods the most visible foods in your home. Keep them in the front of the refrigerator or cabinet.
2. Store high-calorie foods in opaque containers.
3. Keep counters and coffee tables free of food.
4. Take all food out of the living room, away from the television, out of the car and out of the bedroom drawers.
5. Store foods in difficult-to-open containers, turn appealing labels away from view. Put low-calorie foods in “first” view.
6. Don’t use kitchen or table as the social center.

Preparing Your Food
Preparing your own food will allow you to control how it is made. You don’t have this control over pre-prepared foods bought away from home in restaurants, fast food establishments and grocery stores.
1. Prepare low-calorie, high quality meals.
2. Use an exhaust fan to lower appetite stimulation. Use the lids for all your pots.
3. Don’t nibble while preparing. If you are truly hungry, have a low calorie snack such as raw carrots.
4. Prepare only the amount of meat and starch you will need for the meal, but prepare extra foods from the vegetable group.
5. Substitute low calorie items for high calorie items.
6. Prepare lunches while the evening meal is being prepared, minimizing contact with food.
7. Immediately place all mixing bowls and utensils in soapy water before licking them clean. This is especially important for holiday baking!

Serving Your Food
Create an environment which offers a pleasurable experience. This experience should include a non-hurried experience, an attractive setting and high quality foods. Remember to discover the satisfaction in food!
1. Put only the food needed for that meal on the table and serve yourself last. Don’t leave serving dishes on the table. Avoid “family style” service.
2. Serve yourself an “appropriately” small or medium serving. Don’t go back for seconds unless it is more from the vegetable group.
3. Use a small dinner plate so food appears more abundant.

Eating Your Food

Keep the hunger scale in mind as you gauge your hunger and fullness.

1. Chew slowly. This should be a pleasurable experience. Don’t attack your food.
2. Put the utensil down between bites.
3. Eat only what is on your plate. Try to leave some food behind. Remember, when we eat more than our bodies need, we waist it.
4. Concentrate on the food being eaten. Enjoy your meal.
5. Eat in one place; don’t carry meals or snacks to all parts of the house.6. Eat the majority of your food before 5 p.m but don’t be worried about eating later, as long as it fits into your budget. Remember to stop 60-90 minutes before bed.7. Don’t eat haphazardly; plan ahead! If you fail to plan, you have planned to fail.
8. Brush your teeth after a meal or use some other cue that indicates you are through. A glass of hot tea or gourmet coffee is a great cue to tell yourself the meal is complete. Remember, the more often a cue is rehearsed, the stronger the response becomes. The same holds true for negative cues and negative responses (i.e. dessert after dinner).

Cleaning Up
This can be the most problematic contact with food. It easy to graze as leftovers are put away.
1. Clear the table immediately after completing the main dish.
2. Dispose of leftovers or scrape plates immediately. Do not leave food to “pick at.”
3. If it is inconvenient to clear the table immediately, then leave it; go to another room for your conversation or cup of coffee.
4. If leftovers are a problem for you, have someone else clean up.
5. If leftovers are to be saved, do so immediately. This may be a good opportunity to prepare your lunch for the next day.
6. Find an alternate activity to capture your interest after eating time, preferably a moving activity. A walk around the block would be great.
7. If you feel you need more food, try the five-minute technique. You may eat more than you had planned – if you still feel the need to eat in five minutes.

“Our happiness depends upon the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast for us.”
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD