Out of sight out of mind
Parents often ask me what’s the simplest thing to do to help their kids to a healthy weight in a fast food/fake food world? My answer: turn your home into a nutritional safe zone. Purge the pantry and fridge of junk foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients and replace them with healthy alternatives. Why? It’s the easy availability of junk food can trigger overeating.
In fact, the tendency to eat simply because food is present was very clearly demonstrated in a study by Brian Wansink and colleagues at Cornell University involving 40 secretaries. Over a 4-week period, the researchers placed chocolate candies in clear or opaque bowls either next to or 6 feet away from their desks. After work hours each day, the researchers filled the bowls and tallied how many candies the secretaries has eaten. The bowls were rotated so that each secretary spent an equal amount of time with clear or opaque bowls, as well as next to the candy and 6 feet away from it. The result: the secretaries ate an extra 2.2 pieces of candy a day when the chocolate was visible through a clear bowl, and an extra 1.8 pieces when the bowl was on their desks.
– Dr David Ludwig is Director of the Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) program at Children’s Hospital Boston and author of Ending the Food Fight