US research has shown that we each make more than 200 nearly subconscious food decisions every day: soup or salad? A little or a lot? Finish it or leave it? And our environment nudges us towards good - or bad - choices. Use these easy suggestions to streamline your kitchen and making healthy eating a cinch.
Declutter your benchtops
If yours are full of dirty dishes or never-used kitchen appliances, it’s time to Marie Kondo your kitchen. Research shows that messy kitchens actually inspire unhealthy food choices. “If you don’t have space to cook, you’ll have a tendency to gravitate toward less healthy packaged foods,” says dietitian Maxine Smith.
Make healthy food simple to spot
Rearrange your pantry, cupboards, and fridge. “Having healthy foods front and centre on the shelves helps you to eat better,” says dietitian Robin Plotkin. Meantime, stash treats in less-prominent places, in containers that aren’t see-through. Research shows you’re three times more likely to eat the first food you see. Food psychologist Brian Wansink has made a career of studying our food habits. “We find over and over that the most visible foods are the ones you eat first and eat most. The best thing you can do is not to have food sitting out unless it rhymes with roots and wedgies.” To that end, have a bowl of your favourite fruits in plain sight.
Clear the table
When it’s blanketed by papers, you wind up eating dinner on your couch-not great for mindful eating (see right). If it doubles as a work desk, make sure there are drawers and baskets nearby so that at dinnertime you can spirit the mess away.
Streamline meal prep
Decide what’s on the week’s menu ahead of time and then write your weekly shopping list based on your meal plan to ensure you have all the ingredients you’ll need. If you’re short on time - or imagination - try a company that delivers recipes and meal prep kits to your door, such as Hello Fresh or Marley Spoon.
Use these shortcuts to healthy meals
• Keep frozen berries in the freezer to add to top onto your breakfast cereal or pop into smoothies.
• Keep frozen vegies in the freezer for quick meals.
• Buy small packs of microwave rice for easy meals.
• Boil up a batch of eggs to keep in the fridge to add to salads, sandwiches or to have as filling snacks.
• Roast two sheets of vegetables with a lean protein source like chicken or tofu to have a few prepared dinners on hand.
• Use hummus instead of creamy salad dressings.