Food for thought

By Alice Inoue Posted in: Go Ask AliceImprove

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: This is probably going to seem like a strange question, but is there anything I can do around the home to curb overeating? The feng shui food flow is “too good” in my house.

It is not a strange question at all! However, rather than approaching this from a feng shui perspective, I’ve gathered information from various environmental psycho logical studies, because most of the information in feng shui is geared toward enhancing appetite, not suppressing it.


Environmental influences on food consumption

It was surprising to learn how much of our eating behavior is affected and explained by what is happening in our environment, but that just might explain why many people put on weight during the holidays, despite their best efforts not to. Numerous environmental factors explain why many of us have developed certain eating behaviors.

Hopefully, you can use the following questions and answers to raise your awareness and guide your eating behavior at home and at parties:

• How many people are in the room?

In general, studies show that the more people in a room during a meal, the more each person will eat because the influence of social norms is more prominent.

• How relaxed is the atmosphere?

We tend to eat more when we are with others whom we know well. The relaxed atmosphere usually extends the time we sit down to a meal and diminishes our awareness of the amount of food we eat.

• How much food is visible?

The more food you can see in the room, the more you will eat. Kitchens are getting bigger and more open than ever before, exposing us to more visual and sensory cues for eating.

• How accessible is the food?

The more accessible the food, the faster and more we eat. Studies showed that by moving candy bowls just 6 feet away in the same room, intake was reduced by half.

• How much variety of food is there?

We eat more when a greater diversity and variety of food is visible. If you imagine a table filled with plates of food, but the only food served is fried rice, you’d likely not eat as much.

• How many serving bowls are out and what size are they?

The bigger the serving bowls, the more we eat.

• How big is the portion?

Many experiments showed that we eat in proportion to the amount served. In other words, we will eat the whole portion regardless of how big it is or how hungry we are.

• What is the shape of the food and the food containers?

We tend to eat more when the food is circular, because it appears smaller, and we eat more when it is served in wider containers. People pour greater amounts of drink into wide cups than they do into tall cups.

Mindful eating.

Now that you know what environmental cues cause you to unconsciously eat more, you can choose to be more mindful in how you ser ve yourself and how you create your eating environment in your home.

Alice Inoue is the founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happiness U, a friendly educational establishment at Na Lama Kukui (formerly known as Gentry Pacific Design Center) on Nimitz Highway. At Happiness U you’ll find dozens of inspiring classes all geared toward personal growth, helping you live a more purposeful and ease-filled life. YourHappinessU.com