Healthy Food Blog

I want you to live better. Blogging about how you can.

This Easy Trick Prevents Overeating at Buffets

One of my personal “tricks” is to use the smallest plate possible, or a napkin at buffets. The bigger the plate, the more I'll pile on and the more I'll mindlessly overeat and stuff myself. I'm an overeater and buffets are like Christmas to that “EAT ALL THE FOOD” drive inside me. Creating the boundary of a smaller plate—or a napkin---has been an integral tool in my path to a better balance.

It's one of Wansink's recommendations too, but he dishes up some other awesome gems in Slim By Design.

(I also had the good fortune of putting these insights to the test on a 14-day cruise recently—I confirm he's SPOT ON! I didn't just test it on myself, I sat and watched others, too!)

What do “slim” people do differently at an all-you-can-eat buffet?

Slim diners “scout” out the buffet before grabbing a plate.

When I started doing this, I started serving myself way less, even though I was already only walking around the salad bar.

Wansink says “Heavier diners were twice as likely to charge ahead to the nearest stack of plates, take one, and fill it up. They didn't skip to the foods they really liked. Instead they served themselves a bit of everything they didn't hate.

This was a real eye-opener for me. When I see ALL the choices before me, I can decide exactly what it is that I want to eat and that's what I serve myself. Immediately after doing this, I started selecting all my top choices and not plating anything I didn't really want. This in and of itself practically curbed my overeating tendency on the cruise!

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Can the Color of Your Kitchen Make You Gain?

What color should your kitchen be? (and can the color of your kitch make you fat?)

Wansink's research found that bright colors aggitate us and cause us to eat too quickly (which leads to overeating, among other issues). This is why you'll find bright colors in fast food joints. They don't want you to stick around! Think about (or Google) to see interior pictures of McDonald's and Taco Bell!

Dark colors, meanwhile, will cause you to linger, eat longer, and eat more. Perhaps that's why I can't seem to unseat myself at Starbucks! It isn't just the free WiFi ;) I've also started to noticed some of the fancier restaurants are deep, dark colors.

The ideal solution is somewhere in the middle: not too bright, not too dark, and not white or cream.

Of course I know painting your kitchen isn't as easy a solution as it sounds, and having just spent a year and my life savings remodeling my kitchen (it's black and white) I'm not about to change it, but I have adopted a few other Wansink tips to overcome the white issue.

In Slim by Design, Wansink recommends dining in a dining room, away from food. Unfortunately I don't have a dining room in my tiny home, so that's out--BUT I was able to adopt another suggestion: uncomfortable chairs. I went all the way to metal stools. You can't sit on them long without wanting to get up ;)

annd yes, I recognize they're a bright color. LOL. I'm a work in progress too! But this has helped us a lot! We also put all the food away out of sight once we've served our plates so it's not just there on the stove across from us. (I wish I had room for a table or a dining room now!)

Another trick is to use smaller plates and smaller glasses (unless you're drinking water--go big!) to create a boundary for yourself (see next week's buffet newsletter for more info).

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What's the Worst Thing You Can Have on Your Counter?

Years ago I read Mindless Eating, which changed my relationship with food and habits forever. I was over the moon when the author released a second book, and I read it cover-to-cover the first day! I've now read it twice and for the next few weeks, I'll be sharing key points with you in a mini Slim By Design series. (I read all the books so you don't have to!)

Mindless Eating teaches us that “we're nudged more by our eating environment and things like 100-calorie packs than by our deliberate choices.” Thus, it's 1000x more effective to change our eating environment than resolve to have better willpower. (Wansink says willpower alone won't conquer bad eating habits in 90% of us!)

So...what's the worst thing you can have on your counter?


According to Wansink's research in Slim by Design, if you have cereal on your kitchen counter, you'll weigh 21 pounds more than your neighbor who doesn't.

21 pounds!

Wansink explains that most of us have to walk through our kitchen before we go anywhere else in the house, and if we have yummy, convenient food right there, we'll eat it. The more visible and reachable a food is, the more you're likely to eat it.

I took all food off our countertops a few years ago when I became a minimalist. I found the open, uncluttered, clear surfaces made for a more zen environment, a necessity in my battle against anxiety.

Right away I noticed our cereal started going stale faster, or boxes would remain unopened for a long time. I stopped buying it, figuring my family lost the desire... they go in waves with their likes anyway. Now I see what really happened!

Interesting, when I opened Happy Herbivore HQ, I brought in a ton of complimentary snacks (like That's It Fruit Bars and McDougall soups) and put them in a pretty basket on top of the communal mini fridge, which happens to be inside the coat closet.

No one ever ate the treats—so I sent out an email “the snacks are free” and even put a little sign “Free” next to them. But still they went uneaten, even though I know everyone eats these things at their own homes.

Now I understand: The freebies were out of sight and the only time they were in view, was when my employees were getting their lunchbox! A time when they were already getting other food.

Of course, when I put dark chocolate raisins out in the open, they were gone immediately. Sure you could say it's CHOCOLATE, but I'm betting being in view made all the difference—and it did! Because there were “extra” dark chocolate raisins in the closest with the other freebies, and no one was eating those.

Moral of the story: remove all breakfast cereals from your kitchen counter so you're not tempted.

By the way, Wansink's research of tens of thousands of people confirm that even the smartest, most disciplined calorie counters are influenced by their surroundings, so if you think “now that I know this I won't do it”, you're wrong ;) (I speak from embarrassed experience)

Plus with the meal plans, you should always have plenty of healthy, premade options in the fridge or freezer waiting for you too! Or use one of our instant breakfast ideas :)

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New Meal Plan Format & Features!

Today, with the release of this week's meal plan, we will be rolling out our *new and improved* individual meal plan!

Based on all your awesome and helpful feedback, we've redesigned the individual meal plan to make it more flexible, especially since many of you like to take days off or do your own thing for breakfast.

Watch this 3-minute video to see the cool new upgrades.

The calendar is now labeled so every meal gets a letter (leftovers are also placed closer together, but many of our meal makers like to pick and choose when they eat the meals). Breakfasts are now optional, and will have their own separate shopping list.

The shopping list is designed like the family plan where ingredients are associated with meal letters so it's easy to cross of stuff for meals or recipes you skip. As always, we'll continue to provide substitutions for allergies :)

A full 1,200 calorie calendar with snacks and desserts (the prior format) is also still included on the second page.

This new flexible style purely an addition, not a replacement :)

By the way, if you take the new meal plans for a spin this month (via premium monthly membership) I'll include the Best of 2014 meal plan recipes as my free gift to you!

I'm confident you'll l.o.v.e. the new meal plans and can't wait to hear what you think!

Get the current meal plan now.

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Planning Your New Year, New You Resolutions?

If you're reading this, I know you're devoted and excited about planning your 2015 resolutions.

High-five to you!!!

If you're looking to lose weight or start a plant-based diet, I can't recommend the meal plans enough! Having a plan in place makes it so easy to stay on track, be consistent and reach those goals!

Here are a few other things tools in my skinny tool belt:

That's It Fruit Bars

I always have one or two in my purse plus another in my car. They're a great little snack when I'm hungry between meals or I find myself somewhere with limited healthy options.

Glass water bottle

Toting this water bottle around with me reminds me to drink and stay hydrated. Plus it keeps me from mindless munching or grabbing a high-calorie drink.

I also put soups and smoothies in this thermos for on-the-go. Here's another cool travel soup countainer with built-in spoon.

Mindless Eating

I faithfully read this every year on New Year's Day. (I'm also a big fan of re-reading The Pleasure Trap).

Travel Yoga mat

2014 was the year of yoga--I'm now practicing once a day and it has done wonders for my productivity, stress, anxiety management, and bod! It's not uncommon for me to bust out a down dog or warrior 2 in the office!

Chop sticks

After spending a month in Asia, I fell in love with using chop sticks. It really helped me slow down and appreciate my food. (As a chronic overeater, using chop sticks has been amazing for me). Click here for beginner sticks.

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Why Diet is Key to Weight Loss Success

A member emailed:

"I started eating a plant-based diet almost a year ago after watching Forks Over Knives. When I started, I lost weight and felt great, but now I'm starting to gain! Over this past year, I have gotten tired of salad, peanut butter and beans. I don't have a lot of time to cook, so when I'm busy I don't eat. Then I come home and eat 4 rice cakes with a little peanut butter and all fruit preserves. I really never get hungry for dinner so I just eat some peanuts and go to bed. I also exercise 3 times a week, it used to be more, but work and kids make it hard for me. I have a friend that eats mostly paleo and I'm tempted to try it. She had success eating this way with losing weight. Any advice?"

I'm sorry to hear this has happened, but can tell you it's the peanut butter. Added fats, especially oils, but also nuts and nut butters will pack on the pounds, even if you're not overeating calories. I've had many clients who, even when they scrupulously counted their calories, continued to gain or did not lose weight while eating avocado and peanut butter. Some clients find they can have a little without problem, but fat is a common culprit. As is hidden oils.

You can see the list of other culprits here: Not Losing Weight on a Plant-Based (Vegan) Diet? Here's Why (How to Lose Weight)

I actually don't recommend exercise during attempts at weight-loss as it can slow you down and create too many variables, so don't worry about not being able to exercise. It's more important to eat right :)

Paleo will destroy your health, it's so harmful for the body. People sometimes lose weight on diets like that because they force their body to get sick in ketosis. People also lose weight starving themselves--not that that's healthy! At best you could say paleo is a vanity diet, but that's all it is.

People who eat a high-protein diet have 4x the risk of death from cancer and diabetes and double the risk of death from any other cause, reports a recent UCLA study.

And you've seen Forks Over Knives, so you know how animal foods feed cancer and damages the heart.

Even too much plant protein is taxing on the body.

If you want to lose weight, you have to cut the fat out and the convenience foods--remember that a can of beans and rice from the freezer is easy, as is a bag of frozen veggies. A great book is The Starch Solution.

I also cannot recommend the meal plans enough! You take 2 hours to prep all the meals for the week, then you can reheat all week long. If it's just two of you, then leftovers = lunch and you can do a simple breakfast like oatmeal, or one of our other suggestions. The meal plans also more than pay for themselves :) and eating paleo ain't cheap!

Good luck!

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