We used to keep a container of M&M's out on our kitchen counter . It’s something that my grandma did, and in many ways, it was a comforting reminder of her. Even though I didn’t recall eating many of the M&Ms, somehow the bowl became empty every few days. Sound familiar?
Research consistently shows that what we see, we will eat. It’s the reason that most diet plans suggest banishing unhealthy foods from your home, but that can often leave you feeling deprived. This can set you up for overeating these foods when given a chance. How can you strike a more moderate balance?
We are all about having everything at our fingertips—it’s much easier to click “Buy Now” on Amazon Prime than to drive to a shopping mall to buy a pair of shorts, for example. How can you apply this to food?
In 2013, Google changed the free candy containers in their New York offices from transparent to opaque. As a result, employees ate 3 million fewer calories from candy in just the first seven weeks. Another research study found that keeping candy just 5 feet away from the desk resulted in employees eating significantly fewer pieces. Even more interesting, they did not take more treats when they did get up. There was no downside to just moving it to an inconvenient place.
Where are the tempting foods in your home? Are they out on the counter like my M&M’s, or are they tucked away in a high cabinet or in the back of a drawer? Clear as much food from your counter as possible, except a bowl of fruit. If you must keep food out, try keeping it in containers that you can’t see through.
You can make this work away from home, too. At restaurants, it’s not necessary to request “no chips” or “no bread”— ask that they arrive with your meal instead of before when they are the only food on the table. If you know portions are large, put half your meal away in a takeaway container before you eat. Just make sure you can't see through it! If you're at a buffet, sit facing away from it. If you're at a Chinese restaurant, eat with chopsticks, especially if you're not very good at it. It slows you down and makes it more inconvenient to eat large bites.
That bowl of M&M’s is no longer on my counter; they are in the cabinet now (way in the back). I found them the other day when I was cleaning.
I’m happy to report they were stale.