Slim Solutions for a 'Skinny Kitchen'

In this post, we're looking at one fat habit you may not even be aware of -- how your kitchen may be sabotaging your diet.
03/18/2013 05:57 pm ET Updated May 18, 2013

If you've ever struggled to shed pounds -- or keep them off -- chances are you may have collected some fat habits. "Fat habits" are those daily, unhealthy behaviors, choices, and actions that are keeping you out of your "skinny jeans." In our new book, The Real Skinny: 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions (Penguin), we've tackled some of the most stubborn habits that may be keeping you from a svelte physique. In this post, we're looking at one fat habit you may not even be aware of -- how your kitchen may be sabotaging your diet.

"Help! My Kitchen Is Making Me Fat!"

Diet saboteurs lurk in every room of your humble abode -- especially your kitchen. Fortunately, you can turn your kitchen into a health haven with a few simple slim solutions. And changing your home environment can go a long way toward cinching up your waistline for life.

Kitchen Diet Saboteur #1: Clutter and Disorganization

Is your fridge so jam-packed you can't even see into it? Are your cabinets so stuffed items fly out when you open them? If so, it's time to do a quick cleaning and reorganizing. After all, the foods in your kitchen and how they're organized can make a huge difference in what and how much you eat and drink.

Slim Solution: Spring Clean Yourself Slim

Start by tossing unhealthy items or putting them in places that are hard to see and reach. Reorganize using the prime real estate in the fridge and cabinets -- accessible shelves and drawers -- for healthy foods, such as vegetables and fruit, lean proteins and nonfat dairy.

Kitchen Diet Saboteur #2: Your Plates and Bowls Are Platters and Bowls Are Basins

Size definitely matters! You know what they say about big plates... big waists!

Many standard entree plates are 12 or even 14 inches in diameter. Not too long ago, they were 10 inches in diameter. Cereal bowls used to be 4 inches in diameter and hold about 2 cups, and now they're more than 5 inches and hold more than 5 cups of food! Larger plate and bowls are associated with increased serving sizes and more calories consumed. In addition, when a recommended portion of food is served on a larger plate or bowl, you'll feel less satisfied because the visual cues suggest you're getting shortchanged.

Slim Solution: Downsize Your Dishes

How much we eat rarely has to do with how hungry we are. Instead, our brains tend to rely on visual cues, like the size of our bowls and plates, to tell us how much to eat. Large plates and bowls lead to more eating for two simple reasons: You'll serve yourself more and they make recommended portions look puny.

Studies show that going from a 12-inch plate to a 10-inch plate can reduce how much you eat by about 22 percent. The same is true for smaller bowls and spoons. Smaller serving spoons were found to result in a 14 percent decrease in food intake, while smaller bowls led to a whopping 50 percent decrease in eating.

Kitchen Diet Saboteur #3: You Serve It Up Family-Style

In which situation are you likely to eat more: when large plates of delicious food are placed on the table just inches in front of you, or when the food is left on the stove or counter and you have to get up to get seconds or thirds? Of course, the answer is when it's right in front of you.

This seems pretty obvious, but believe it or not, researchers have actually studied it. One group found that men ate 29 percent more food when a serving dish was on the table versus the counter; women ate about 10 percent more.

Slim Solution: Plate Your Main Dish at the Stove

Plate your main dish, such as meat and rice or pasta, at the stove, and store the leftovers -- you're less likely to automatically go for seconds if the food isn't easily accessible. But do keep serving bowls of salad and vegetables on the table during dinner -- most of us don't get enough servings a day.

For more by Julie Upton, click here.

For more by Katherine Brooking, click here.

For more on diet and nutrition, click here.