Small actions can add up to both good (and bad) health. Why not start with these easy five changes?
Use opaque containers.
The behavioral insights team at Google found that employees took less candy from opaque jars than from clear jars. The switch from clear to opaque containers resulted in the Google staff at one New York office consuming a whopping 3.1 million fewer calories in just seven weeks.
When you can’t see the candy from the outside of the jar, you opt for it less often. Out of sight, out of mind.
Think beyond the jar: instead of splaying candy around your desk, put it in a drawer. You won’t go for it unless you remember it and consciously decide to have it.
Keep your fruit close and your veggies closer.
Don’t be afraid to grab fruit from the d-hall for your dorm. Keeping healthy food on hand helps to avoid the mistake of digging into those Cheez-Its (or these Cheez-Its) you have around in case of emergency.
Use small dishes with a high color contrast to the food you’re eating.
Studies from Cornell researchers have shown serving dishes play a big role in how much we eat. Turns out we eat consistently less when eating from smaller plates.
People also eat less of a food when it’s on a plate of a starkly different color. On the other hand, when the plate and food have similar hues, people eat more.
These findings have unfortunate implications for “beige day” at the d-hall—when HUDS serves us tator tots, chicken fingers, pizza and other often fried dishes. First of all, the food itself isn’t nutritious. Beyond that, though, beige food on white plates isn’t a strong contrast, so we’re probably consuming even more of the unhealthy foods than we had considered.
Eat with healthy friends.
Sometimes we’re simple-minded: monkey see, monkey do. When you eat with healthier people, you will eat more healthfully because you will be reminded of your health goals. When people eat with others who are overweight, they might choose more unhealthy options.
Don’t trust your gut.
We’re told not to go to the grocery store hungry because we’ll end up buying more food impulsively than we would buy if we weren’t hungry. The same impulse factor looms when we go through the dining hall buffet hungry.
We can take whatever food we want—after all, our d-hall privileges are pre-paid—, so we might take more food than we should on our first trip to the kitchen.
It’s better to start with a small amount of food and go back for seconds only after consciously deciding you’re still hungry than to take heaps of food mindlessly on your first trip.
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