If you’re on a quest to lose weight, you probably already know that eating right and exercising will be key to your success. But here’s another tip: How you store your food may influence how many calories you consume, and how healthy your choices are.
“You’re three times more likely to grab the first food you see than the fifth food,” says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of Slim by Design. In one study, people ate almost twice as much candy from clear versus opaque bowls – 55 extra calories daily, which can add up to five to six pounds of weight gain per year.
To make it easier to make the healthy choice, try making healthy foods easier to see and tempting foods nearly invisible. Here’s how to pick the best storage container to support your healthy-eating goals.
Keep healthy foods in clear containers
Studies suggest that we’re much more likely to eat fruit when it’s sitting out in a bowl on the table in plain sight. The same holds true when you store fruits and veggies in clear containers so they’re the first thing you see when you open the refrigerator door. Make it even easier to make the healthy choice by prepping salad ingredients and cutting up fruits and vegetables the night before while you’re making dinner so you’re not deterred by having to wash, peel or chop produce when you’re in a rush to pack lunches or to grab a quick snack.
Put more calorie-dense foods in semi-see-through containers.
Semi-see-through containers are good for “middle-of-the-road” foods, such as leftover whole-wheat pasta or chili. Both of these options can make a healthy lunch, but if you’re trying to watch your weight, you don’t want to eat as many calories for your lunch as you did for dinner than night before. If you don’t see the container of leftover pasta until after you’ve made a salad for lunch, you might be more likely to take just a small portion of pasta to round out your meal – rather than starting with the spaghetti and making vegetables the afterthought.
Store treats in opaque containers
The old saying, “out of sight, out of mind” rings true when it comes to leftover treats. Keep chocolate cake and other calorie-busting foods from calling your name by storing them in opaque containers.
Move ice cream to the very back of the freezer (behind the 100-percent fruit popsicles and the frozen berries that you could sprinkle over yogurt), and you might forget it’s there. A small treat can be part of a weight-loss plan, but it can be challenging to hold yourself to just one treat when you’re feeling distracted and stressed at your midday meal.
Consider portion size
Organizing your leftovers into clear, semi-see-through and opaque containers is a great way to speed up your morning routine and make it easy to grab the healthy choice – but pre-portioning your leftovers is another effective strategy for keeping calories in check.
Rather than trusting yourself to serve an appropriate-sized portion from a larger dish when it’s lunchtime and you’re hungry, consider portion sizes when you’re packing up leftover food after dinner. It’s much easier to exert self-control when you’re still full from dinner than it is at 12:01 p.m. the next day when your stomach is rumbling.
– EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online atwww.eatingwell.com.