Help your family effortlessly lose weight

If you tweak how you store and serve foods at home, you can help your family members reach their healthy-eating goals. People overeat for a wide variety of reasons, many of which they aren’t even aware. Studies show that some aren’t able to accurately estimate their daily calorie needs. Other evidence also suggests how you eat might have little to do with willpower or even your best intentions. Still, there are simple ways to eat smaller portions.

During HPRC’s #GotMySix campaign, let your family members know you “have their six” and support their nutritional health. Try these tips to help weight loss occur without the discipline of dieting. And keep in mind these small changes can help you and your loved ones make healthier choices every day.

  • Take a look at your packaged foods. When food packages are larger, people tend to serve and eat larger portions. Tip: Purchase smaller packages or divide larger packages into smaller ones. Certain pictures on food packages such as cereal also show nearly 70% greater serving sizes—suggesting what a serving might look like—compared to what’s on that package’s Nutrition Facts panel. These suggestions can put you at risk of serving larger portions and overeating too. Tip: Measure and store single servings in individual containers, and avoid the “visual temptation” to eat oversize portions.
  • Store foods in smaller quantities. Those who store large quantities of ready-to-eat foods at home are likely to overeat more than 50% until quantities are back to regular-size levels. Tip: After purchasing foods, store them in a basement, closet, or other area to keep them out of sight, out of mind. Or freeze or repackage foods, if possible. And stockpile healthy foods, so you’ll choose them more often.
  • Plate sizes and colors matter. People who use larger plates tend to fill them with more food, which can lead to overeating. Tip: Use smaller plates and bowls to reduce portion sizes. Or use larger plates for salads and smaller plates for entrées. Less color contrast between your food and what it’s served on might contribute to larger portion sizes and overeating too. Tip: Serve white foods on colorful dishes and colorful foods on white dishes, so you’ll eat less. For example, serve mashed potatoes or white rice on colorful plates. And try to serve colorful foods such as pasta with tomato sauce on white plates. Serving and eating smaller portions can help satisfy your hunger while you unknowingly eat less food.
  • What’s in your glass? When people fill their glasses, they tend to focus on the height of the glass rather than its width or even the amount of beverage poured. In one recent study, participants served themselves and consumed nearly 90% more beverages in short, wide glasses than in tall, narrow ones that held the same amounts. Tip: Choose tall, narrow glasses for beverages with calories and fill your short, wide glasses with water or other noncaloric drinks.
  • Swap larger spoons for smaller ones. Spoon sizes also can contribute to overeating. Tip: Choose smaller spoons when eating, so it takes longer to eat. Or use chopsticks to eat less.

With a few simple changes, you can help your family effortlessly control how much they eat without the stress of monitoring every bite.

Resources

Tal, A., Niemann, S., & Wansink, B. (2017). Depicted serving size: Cereal packaging pictures exaggerate serving sizes and promote overserving. BMC Public Health, 17(1). doi:10.1186/s12889-017-4082-5

Van Ittersum, K., & Wansink, B. (2012). Plate size and color suggestibility: The delboeuf illusion’s bias on serving and eating behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, 39(2), 215–228. doi:10.1086/662615

Wansink, B. (2004). Environmental factors that increase the food intake and consumption volume of unknowing consumers. Annual Review of Nutrition, 24(1), 455–479. doi:10.1146/annurev.nutr.24.012003.132140

Wansink, B. (2010). From mindless eating to mindlessly eating better. Physiology & Behavior, 100(5), 454–463. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.05.003

Wansink, B., Painter, J. E., & North, J. (2005). Bottomless bowls: Why visual cues of portion size may influence intake**. Obesity Research, 13(1), 93–100. doi:10.1038/oby.2005.12