Is Your Home Obesogenic*?
Sure, it’s a haven. But it’s also where bad eating habits can come to roost. Here’s how to create domestic surroundings that will keep you on the straight and narrow.
If you keep choosing cheese curls over biceps curls, your home could have a lot to do with it. “Your habits are more tied to your environment than you know,” says psychologist Jeremy Dean, the author of Making Habits, Breaking Habits ($26, amazon.com). Eat enough chips on the couch, for instance, and you’ll automatically associate couch time with chip time. Our routines are so influenced by environmental cues that research shows it’s easier to change our habits in a novel setting. “We see major shifts in behavior when people move to a new house,” says Dean. But you don’t have to relocate to start anew; you just need to become aware of the subtle cues that say “cake!” and replace them with healthy alternatives. “The typical person makes about 200 food-related decisions a day, but she believes she makes 25 to 30. And it’s those 175 that you’re not aware of that can push you to eat more,” says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., the director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab and the author of the upcoming book Slim by Design ($27, amazon.com). Here’s how to help your home help you get (or stay) slender.
* Yes, that’s a real word. It means “causing obesity,” and it was added to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary in 2012.