Being a coach isn’t just about training people. Nor is it just about giving nutrition advice and customised nutrition plans. It’s also about focusing on a client’s lifestyle, and finding how to optimise other areas of life, such as stress, sleep, eating behaviours, habits etc. Improving lifestyle factors can be highly valuable and can have a massive impact on health, well-being and body composition.
So this article is all about small changes you can make to your ‘food radius’ (the area in which you eat and buy most of your food) based on a great book I recently read by Brian Wansink titled “Slim By Design”. The premise of the book is that, in today’s world, it is extremely easy to over-eat without even realising it. But, rather than consciously thinking about eating less, Wansink argues that it “is easier to change your eating environment than to change your mind”. So throughout the book, Wansink provides a plethora of tips and tricks to help you unconsciously eat less through tweaking your ‘food radius’.
Here are some top tips from the book, plus a couple of my own, to help you become slimmer without having to think about it: -
- When you’re eating at home, choose plates that contrast with the colour of your food - you’ll eat on average 18% fewer calories. So if you eat a lot of white starches such as rice and potato, dark plates are a good idea.
- “In sight, in stomach” - we eat what we see, not what we don’t. Studies conducted by Wansink and his colleagues showed that they could roughly predict a person’s weight by the food they had sitting out on the kitchen counters. For example, research shows that a person who has a box of breakfast cereal anywhere in sight will weigh 10kgs more than their neighbour who doesn’t.
- Make your kitchen less ‘loungeable’ - the more you hang out in your kitchen, the more you’ll eat. Remove comfy chairs, t.v’s, iPad’s from your kitchen and set it up so that it is easy to cook in.
- Change the foods you see first in your cupboards and fridge/freezer. You’re 3x more likely to eat the first food you see than the fifth one. Therefore rearrange your cupboard, pantry and fridge so that the first foods you see are the best for you. Keep cut up fruit and vegetables at eye level in the fridge & keep these in clear plastic containers/bags so that they are very visible. The healthier the food is, the clearer the packaging you should use to store it. Keep the left-over chocolate cake at the very bottom of the fridge, at the back, covered in foil so that it isn't immediately visible.
- Try to eat mindfully by not multi-tasking whilst eating. Multi-tasking whilst eating usually means one-armed eating, which means we gravitate towards finger foods we can eat mindlessly and eat with one hand (chips, nuts, lollies etc).
- We don’t necessarily buy more food when we shop on an empty stomach. We do, however, buy worse food. When we’re hungry we buy foods that are convenient enough to eat right away and will stop our cravings.
- Tell yourself you can only snack if you are sitting down at the kitchen table with no media to distract you.
- Tell yourself you can only have an indulgent afternoon snack if you eat a piece of fruit first.
None of these tips will drastically alter the scales in the short term. However, these tweaks and modifications will have profound effects over the course of months and years. And, the good news is all of the above tips are quick and easy to implement. So don’t delay, make small changes today that will give big results tomorrow.