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Diet Proofing Your Home

By Tanya Rosen

Have you ever heard this expression before? “diet proofing your home”? Chances are, you have not. Now before you get nervous and think you must have missed a major “to do” thing, read on. 

Don’t worry, chances are you are a great mother and housewife, balabusta, and superwoman. I am sure that all your matters are in perfect order. The household and its members are clean, fed, and on schedule. The fridge is stocked, the freezer is too, and you’re ready with lists and all for any communal, natural, or child-created disaster (the latter being most likely).

Ok, so what is diet proofing then, and how come you have never heard of it? Well, let’s think about the “proofing” you are familiar with. Take mouse proofing for instance. The exterminator comes in, seals all holes, tells you not to leave food around, and maybe even recommends you get a cat. Congratulations, you have officially mouse-proofed your home.

On to fireproofing. You install the best smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, implement a fire escape plan, light candles as far away from shades as possible, and teach little kids about the dangers of fire. Of course, you also make sure to have fire extinguishers, sprinklers, and ladders should you Chas V’shalom need them. Can mice or fire still come after you have taken these crucial steps? Sure. However, you can sit back and know that you have done your part and put in the effort required of you.

So now, can I finally explain what I mean by “diet proofing?” Being that home is where you (hopefully) spend a large chunk of your time, what steps have you taken to ensure you will be successful on your weight loss journey EVEN at home? Put simply, no matter how much willpower you have, if your house is not well equipped for your diet and fitness plan, it simply won’t work.

Throughout my experience as a nutritionist, aerobics instructor, and personal trainer I have seen many otherwise strong, determined, and full of willpower women struggle; unnecessarily because they failed to take simple “diet proofing” steps in the home.

I will share with you some ways to start the diet-proofing process. Remember that this is a new concept to you. Just like with anything else, proceed cautiously and do not attempt to do it all at once. Aiming to implement one strategy weekly or biweekly is a smart move.

Kitchen colors. Research has shown that eating in a room with warm colors such as reds and oranges increases your appetite. It is no surprise that many restaurants choose this color scheme. However, if you can help it; avoid these colors in your dining room and kitchen.

Plate colors. The color of your plate also affects how much you eat. Research has shown that eating from white plates increases your appetite and makes you feel as though you are not satisfied. Hence, the color scheme of many restaurant plates.

Music. Loud background music disables/limits your brain’s ability to send a message to you that you are full. Try eating with the radio or television off. The brain can only process so many senses at once so if your auditory sense is being used to its full capacity, you are not able to process being full.

Plate size. Try eating from appetizer-size plates as opposed to dinner-size plates. Sometimes we just need to visually see our plate full. Doing that with a smaller plate can help cut the calories and fat.

Stock up. Be fully stocked with fruits, vegetables, and ready to drink (or filtered)water. If you know your schedule is busy, spend a little extra money and buy pre-cut fruits and vegetables. These need to be ready and available.

Whole grain versus white. Yes, it does matter. Whole grain provides fiber, a necessary nutrient, and an important component for weight loss. Whenever possible choose brown rice over white and whole wheat pasta over white.

Make yourself a chart. It works wonders with kids, and even better with adults. For every week or month that you are “good”, reward yourself with a non-food item such as an outfit, vacation, or a new book.

Track it. Keep a log of every single thing you eat. Jot down your feelings and thoughts as well. This can be helpful when you are about to engage in non-hunger-related eating, such as emotional eating.

Treat yourself. Did we not just say that? This one is different. Here I am referring to a food item (gasp!). I tell my clients that on days that they were absolutely perfect on their diets, they can have one treat up to a certain amount of calories (depending on their weight and age). This is important. By planning to “cheat” you are eliminating a feeling of deprivation. This planned treat puts YOU in control.

Plan ahead. Take a minute and plan out your entire menu for the next day. Think about where you will be and prepare accordingly. Will you have a long drive? Pack some healthy snacks along. Will you be stuck in the office past dinner? Pack a healthy dinner with you. This eliminates spontaneous eating due to excessive hunger.

Spice up your food life. In other words, make it exciting without making it fattening. Is that possible? Absolutely! Add healthy variety to your healthy foods. For example, pour some blueberries into your morning cereal, or try a new, interesting spice on your baked chicken.

Make it a family event. Involve your family members in your goals and plans. Let them know what you are trying to achieve and ask them for help. This could mean gentle reminders when they see you eating something you should not be eating. It could also mean extra help in the kitchen chopping up vegetables for that healthy salad. You can even make it a family team effort and go walking or dance around the house together.

Good luck to you on your diet-proofing journey. No proofing is ever foolproof but try your best and enjoy reaping the benefits of diet success!