Alex O'Brien

7 signs your house could be adding to your waistline

7 signs your house could be adding to your waistline

Well, this is a first. I am sure you’ll agree that from time to time, we've all been guilty of making excuses for our fluctuating waistlines. Step in fatty, sugar-laden foods, carbohydrates and I-can’t-stop-at-one-piece cheese wheels. But, it turns out, your home could be the culprit that is aiding you in putting on weight. And when they say your home could be responsible, they don’t mean that your house is whispering at you to take another bite, rather the study shows that if your home isn't set up right, it may be encouraging bad habits.

The good news is there are things you can do to take back control of your abode. Sherry Pagoto, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, says: "You can restructure your home environment to protect yourself from unhealthy food and sedentary lifestyle."

Here are the problem areas and how to ensure you don’t fall victim to them…

Your eating contraptions are too big

Large spoons, plates and bowls can create the illusion that you might not have dished yourself up enough dinner, making it alluring to serve yourself a larger portion. Dr Brian Wansink, the author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, says that people eat 92 per cent of the food they put on their plate, so the bigger your plate the more you will eat. 

Fix: Use smaller spoons, plates and bowls and serve yourself smaller portions. 

Your healthy food is hidden away

Just like the saying “out of sight out of mind” if your healthy food is hidden, you're less likely to reach for it. Think about it, if you’re hungry and your fruit is tucked away in the crisper in the fridge, you’re most likely going to be inclined to reach for the biscuit jar that is sitting in the open of the shelf.

Fix: Get out a pretty dish and fill it with your favourite fruits and give it pride of place somewhere on a bench in the kitchen.

Your food is in sight at all times

If you store your food out in the open on the bench or expose shelves, you're setting yourself up to eat everything in sight when hunger hits. If you have cookies or sweets on display, when you walk by them it will put that food on your radar – it’s practically asking you to eat it. Dr Brian Wansink says, "You are three times more likely to eat the first thing you see than the fifth thing you see."

Fix: Keep all unhealthy food hidden away in cupboards. If your kitchen cupboards are too full to hold everything, clear them out pronto!

You serve food at the dinner table

Sometimes dinner just tastes so good that even if you’re full, you want a little extra. And if the serving dishes are on the table and all you have to do is reach across to get it – you are far more likely to have a second helping.

The fix:Dish out food straight from your pots and pans instead. This strategy decreased food intake by 10 per cent for women in a Cornell University study. Another trick is to dish out dinner, then put the rest away.

Your house doesn’t get enough light

A study published in the International Journal of Endocrinology found light levels affect the fullness and hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin. Sleep-deprived participants exposed to dim light had lower levels of leptin, which is needed to regulate the amount of fat in your body.

Fix: When you wake up in the morning open your blinds and turn on the lights! By letting the light in you can help regulate your hormones. 

Your house is too hot

Sometimes when you get home, all you want to do is curl up on the sofa with a book or to watch TV and it's all too tempting to set the air to a warm-ish temp. But researchers at Maastricht University Medical Centre in The Netherlands have found that in winter shivering can burn around 400 calories an hour. The Lead author Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt says, "Regular exposure to mild cold may provide a healthy and sustainable alternative strategy for increasing energy expenditure. Mild cold exposure increases body energy expenditure without shivering and without compromising our precious comfort."

Fix: Resist the temptation to set your home to balmy temps and consider lowering the temperature for a few hours a day.

You have too many screens

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show Australian adults spend on average four hours per day doing sedentary leisure activities such as watching television compared with only half an hour of physical activity. And as screens are associated with sitting and sitting is associated with several health concerns, if you have one in multiple rooms in the home, you are going to be more likely to spend more time in front of one.

Fix: Only keep a TV in the lounge room and cut back on your sitting time.