Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

How to Keep Pounds From Creeping UP

You may have heard of the media blaming the “toxic food environment” or “obesogenic environment” as the cause of this obesity epidemic. This refers to an environment with easy access to palatable high calorie foods.1 Often, these foods are exclusively advertised as well – when was the last time you saw a commercial for fruits and vegetables? This means that your will power, or not being “strong enough” to control your food intake, may not be the main cause of your weight issues. By simply making some changes to your home or work environments, you can transform them from health-sabotaging, to health-promoting!

Less Effort = More Consumption:

The availability of food, and how it is packaged, can have a big effect on our waistlines. One study found that participants ate 5.6 more Hershey’s kisses when the candy was placed on their desks, rather than a few steps away.1 Research has shown that convenience is one of the strongest influences on food intake.1 Another study found that people at less food when it was presented in small packages, compared to one big package, even though it was the same amount of food.1 Perhaps by having to open multiple packages, participants were forced to rethink whether they wanted to keep eating or not. Use this information to your advantage!

  • Make healthy foods accessible. Keep fruit or a handful of nuts on your desk and get rid of your unhealthy snacks that you’ve stashed in a candy jar. That way, if you MUST have your candy bar, you’ll have to work up the drive to walk all the way to the vending machine to purchase one. If it requires energy to get your sweet treat, you’ll be more likely to choose the apple sitting right in front of you.
  • Buy smaller packages. If you decide to purchase candy or snacks, buy smaller packages. Some companies offer 100 calorie packs, but you can easily make your own snack packs by putting a cookie or a small handful of crackers in a snack size zip-lock bag. Once you’ve made your snack packs, place just one snack bag towards the front of the pantry – put the rest in the back, so they are out of sight and mind.
  • Know thy fiber. Fiber – the indigestible carbohydrates in fruits, veggies, and whole grains – is known to increase satiety. By loading up on fiber, you will feel significantly more satisfied and full, compared to eating processed foods with no or minimal fiber. Always check the nutrition label – aim for foods with 3 grams or more fiber per serving. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with fiber too- no nutrition label needed!
  • All calories are not created equal. Eating 160 calories of nuts, (about 49 pistachios), isn’t the same as eating 160 calories of typical snack food (about 15 potato chips). The nuts, which have protein, fat, and fiber are more likely to keep you satisfied, whereas the chips may just make you want more! Be sure to choose no-salt or low-salt nuts and watch your portion size. Although nuts are, by far, a healthier choice than chips, they tend to pack a lot of calories in a small serving.
  • Stop-Start-Keep. Stop – thinking fad diets are the best & newest science – instead think of them as propaganda to fill someone’s pockets! Start – writing your health goals down and reading them every morning and evening, and moving more throughout the day! Keep – experimenting with what works best with your lifestyle, tastes, and preferences. Craft a lifestyle that works for you!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Doolan KJ, Breslin G, Hanna D, Murphy K, & Gallagher AM (2014). Visual attention to food cues in obesity: An eye-tracking study. Obesity. 2014: 22; 2501-2507.