Home Design Tips to Help You Lose Weight


Design Ideas for Weight Loss

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Does your home reflect a healthy, slim and active life? Or are you trying to lose weight in a home filled with chaos and clutter? If you chose the latter, you're not alone. It's hard for many of us to make good food choices and find the time to exercise when we are constantly running behind and our lives feel out of control. But there are some quick home design ideas and simple organizational tips that can help you to feel more relaxed. In a home designed for health, diet-friendly decisions become a natural and easy choice.

So where's the best place to begin a healthy home design? Don't try to change everything at once. Scan this list and choose one or two things to try. Focus on a single room and build from there. I would also recommend that you read Slim by Design by Brian Wansink, Ph.D.  Dr. Wansink is a professor and researcher who studies eating behavior at Cornell University. Many of the suggestions in this list are clever design hacks that are pulled from his book. 

And lastly, start visiting your friends - but not any friends. Visit the friends who live the fit and active life you want to live. You'll see that, in many cases, they've designed their homes to support their healthy habits. You might see a pre-packed gym bag placed next to the garage door, a food scale placed neatly on the kitchen counter or a peaceful bedroom space without a TV.  These home design ideas are not accidents, but rather carefully planned choices that help them stay healthy and strong.


Properly Placed Fruit Bowl

You may already have a fruit bowl in your kitchen. But is the fruit growing mold? If so, your fruit bowl might be misplaced. If you're trying to lose weight or eat a healthier diet, where you put the fruit bowl makes a big difference.

In a recent research study about habit changes for weight loss, Dr. Wansink found that when some people made a commitment to snack only after eating a piece of fruit, many of them lost weight.  So where should you put the fruit bowl? In front of the snack cabinet. That way, you'll see the fruit first when you are tempted to snack. Wanskink also suggests putting a fruit bowl near your car keys. If you grab a piece of fruit before you run out the door, you'll be less likely to hit the drive-thru lane when hunger sets in and you're on the road.


Kitchen Memo Board

As part of your healthier, diet-friendly life at home, you'll need to set specific goals to eat better and get more exercise. But those goals won't do any good if you forget about them days after you set them.

So, write out your goals and post them in a place where you'll see them every day. That's usually in the kitchen.  On that board, you'll also want to keep a healthy grocery list so that your refrigerator is always stocked with diet-friendly foods. And lastly, post your weekly workout schedule on this board as well. But keep the board tidy!  Essential health notes won't do any good if they are buried under coupons and photos.


Clean Countertops

What does a healthy kitchen counter look like? It's full of open space that's ready for diet-friendly food preparation. There are no bags of chips, stacked cereal boxes or visibly baked goods. Handbags, toys, and other clutter are also not there.

According to Dr. Wansink, a Slim for Design kitchen counter may have a few neatly organized cooking utensils, a blender for making healthy fiber-rich smoothies, a fruit bowl in front of the snack cabinet and not a lot more. I would also recommend keeping a small digital kitchen scale on your counter to check serving sizes of your favorite foods.  Leave the rest of your counter space empty so when you're ready to cook a healthy meal, you've got plenty of space to work.


Open Shelves for Plates

Open shelves in your kitchen can provide a fresh and airy look. But those shelves can also be a diet disaster if they are filled with tempting foods. So use your open shelves for plates and glasses, not for food. 

And if you can, buy brightly colored, smaller plates to display on those shelves.  According to Dr. Wansink, we tend to eat less when we eat our meals off of smaller plates that don't match the color of our food.


Snack-Proofed Cabinets

Most of us don't snack because we're hungry.  We snack because we're bored or because we see a tempting food that looks good to eat.  So how do you snack less? Many experts recommend hiding the snacks away in a hard-to-reach cabinet.

Pick a top shelf in a cabinet that is hard to reach. Or use a low cabinet where you can store snack foods behind other large, heavy items. That way, you don't see the junky snack foods in the first place and if you do decide to indulge, you have to work a little harder to reach the food.


The "No-Cookie" Jar

You love your cookie jar. I understand. I love mine, too. But if you're trying to lose weight, your cookie jar is too tempting to keep on the counter. That is unless you use it for something other than cookies. Try filling your cookie jar with one of these healthier items.

  • Dog treats
  • Plastic cooking tools to use with non-stick pots and pans
  • Inspirational messages to grab when you need motivation
  • iPhone, iPad, smartphone chargers
  • Mints or sugar-free gum to curb snack cravings

Small Bowls for Portion Control

Most cereal bowls and soup bowls are way bigger than they need to be. It's easy to overfill and overeat with bowls that are nearly bucket-sized. But portion control is easier with small, single-serving bowls.

Invest in a few smaller bowls - like the small porcelain rice bowls at Crate and Barrel or the budget-friendly DINERA bowls at Ikea. Use these small bowls for snacks and treats so you're not tempted to eat so much. Keep the bowls in the easy to reach open cabinet so they are easy to grab at snack or mealtime.


Single Serving Containers

Single serving containers are essential for busy eaters who want to lose weight. If you keep your refrigerator stocked with neatly packaged portion-controlled snack packs, you'll always have a smart choice available to grab when it's time to eat.  

So what do you put in the containers? Dr. Wansink suggests that you keep at least 6 single servings of protein in your refrigerator at all times. But why stop there? Use color-coded containers for single servings of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. You can even use smaller containers for dips and salad dressings to make sure that you always use the right amount of those higher calorie foods.


Clean, Organized Refrigerator

Smart dieters clean off the middle shelves of the refrigerator and fill them with neatly stacked single serving containers of fruits and veggies. I also like to keep a bowl of hard-boiled eggs on the middle shelf of my fridge. That way, I'm more likely to see and grab those healthier items when I open the refrigerator door.

So what do you do with the foods that used to be stored on the middle shelves? There are certain foods that you should just throw away - like sugary drinks. But if your family doesn't want to let those items go, Dr. Wansink suggest storing sodas in the vegetable crisper which is usually in a lower, hard-to-reach spot. 


Dry Erase Grocery List

Once your refrigerator is organized and neatly packed with healthy foods, it will be easier to see when essential supplies for healthy living are getting low.  Keep a list of foods that need to be restocked on a dry-erase board on the refrigerator door. A combination board like the one pictured can also serve as the memo board for your important weight loss goals.  When it's time to go grocery shopping, snap a photo of the board with your smartphone and take it with you to the store.


Microwave for Storage

If you use your microwave every day, you may want to re-think that habit. Dr. Wansink found that people who lived slimmer lives tended to use their microwave less.  This makes sense. A healthy diet usually doesn't include a lot of microwavable, processed foods.

So what do you do with your microwave? I've seen some fit and healthy eaters remove the microwave completely. This leaves an open shelf for your portion controlled-bowls and plates. But if you can't remove the microwave, use it for storage. It can make a great space for all of the single serving containers that you'll use for snack packs.


Tubs of Frozen Veggies

One of my favorite kitchen hacks for weight loss is to add chopped mushrooms to ground meat dishes to boost flavor and reduce fat. But you can also add frozen peas, corn, green beans, or lima beans to casseroles, stews, and other dishes to bulk up your meal, add important nutrients and keep the calories in control.

To save time and money, I buy frozen veggies in bulk and then transfer them from those big unruly plastic bags into neatly stacked plastic tubs in the freezer. Add a scoop to each tub and you're ready to reduce calories every time you cook.


Opaque Containers for Snacks, Cereals

Did you know that kids pour themselves more cereal from a branded box with colorful characters and letters? According to Dr. Wansink, kids usually pour less cereal from a plain, unbranded box. And adults probably do the same thing.  It makes sense. We eat the more of the foods that look enticing.

So how do you eat less of these diet-downer foods? Make them less enticing - and less visible. Put high-sugar cereals and high-calorie snack foods into resealable opaque plastic containers. That way your food stays fresh, but you won't see the junk foods right away when you graze through your cabinets looking for a snack.


Measuring Scoops for Snacks, Grains

Now that your snacks and cereals are neatly packed into tubs and bins, add a measuring scoop to each bin to make sure you serve yourself the right amount every time you eat. You can get measuring cups to throw into each bin or use plastic or stainless steel scoops. Just be sure that each scoop size matches the serving size of the food it's being used with.  A single serving of most cereals, for example, is one cup. So add a one-cup scoop to the cereal bin.  A single serving of dry steel cut oats is usually 1/4 cup. So add a 1/4 cup scoop to the oatmeal bin.


Whole Grains in Decorative Glass Jars

Now that you've tucked away the unhealthy snack foods in a hard-to-reach cabinet and your cereals and other processed foods are hidden in opaque tubs, what do you do with the healthy foods? Put them on display!

Put your whole grains, like quinoa, oatmeal, and brown rice, in clear glass or plastic containers and put them in the front of the cabinet you open most often. You're more likely to eat these healthy high fiber foods if you see them more often. Just make sure you add a measuring scoop to the jar so you always eat the right amount.


Stacked Cutting Boards

Healthy eaters spend a lot of time preparing fresh lean meats, cutting fresh veggies and chopping herbs.  That sounds like a lot of work, but it's not if you have the right tools at your fingertips. I keep several cutting boards (both wood and plastic) neatly stacked upright on my counter so they are always handy and ready to use. You can even use a color coding system to distinguish boards used for meat from boards used for produce.

If you're short on counter space (remember to keep the counters tidy!) then use office tools to help. Use a magazine rack or slotted mail holder to keep your cutting boards organized. Magazine racks can be added the inside of a closet door and the mail keeper can be left right on the counter.


No Kitchen TV

Do you watch television when you're in the kitchen? Don't! According to Dr. Wansink, "the more you hang out in your kitchen, the more you'll eat." So he suggests making your kitchen less "loungeable."  The easiest way to do this is to remove the television.

So what will you do when you can't watch TV while you cook? You'll probably pay closer attention to the food that you're making and the food that you're eating.  It's easier to nibble hundred of calories while you're cooking. Without the distraction of the television, you may be able to pay attention and eat less.


Uncomfortable Chairs

Another way to create a diet-friendly kitchen, says Wansink, is to remove the comfy high-backed chairs that often sit near the kitchen counter or island.  People who have less comfy kitchens spend ​an average of 18 minutes less in the kitchen. And less time in the kitchen can mean less snacking and less mindless nibbling.


Fitness-Friendly Closet

Think the kitchen is the only home design space that matters? No way! There are plenty of other spaces that can use a healthy redesign - like your bedroom closet. 

If you're like me, you put your best clothes in the front of your closet. Maybe you even display your high heels on shelves and put your fanciest dresses in a place where you can see and admire them. And your workout clothes? Those are hidden away in a drawer, barely folded and completely disorganized.

That's a bad idea if you're trying to lose weight.You're most likely to wear the clothes that you see most often. And if you want to lose weight, you should wear the clothes that keep you active. So put your active clothing front and center in your closet.

The closet redesign will also help you to take advantage of the new athleisure fashion trend.  Many men and women now blend active attire with work attire and even with travel attire so that they keep moving throughout the day to burn more fat and calories.


Sleep-Inducing Bedroom

A 5-minute bedroom overhaul may help you sleep better.  And a good night's rest may help you to make better food choices during the day according to several recent studies. So what needs to be changed in your bedroom? Try these quick fixes to promote better sleep:

  • Don't charge any electronics in the bedroom.  Move chargers to the kitchen or another room in the house.
  • Minimize light from other sources, including the TV.  Many good sleepers do so because they've moved the television out of the bedroom entirely.
  • Keep a lavender spray near your bed. Feng shui experts believe that the soothing properties of the essential oil may help you relax and sleep better at night.

Separate Laundry Basket for Workout Wear

Ask any fit, active exerciser, and they'll tell you that they do more laundry than their friends who don't work out. And many of them keep a smaller laundry basket just for workout wear.  That way there's no need to sort your items when this basket fills up.  And if it fills up often that means you're doing a good job of getting enough exercise each week! A separate basket just for workout wear will also help you to keep your sweaty, smelly clothing away from more delicate items. 


Dedicated Gym Bag Spot

If you're really serious about exercise, you pack your gym bag the night before your workout. But if you forget to bring your bag with you the next morning, then your efforts are wasted. So, create a dedicated spot by your door for your exercise essentials. Hang a hook, or create an elevated cubby near the garage door so the bag is always at eye level when you head for your car in the morning. 

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