QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Christmas is almost here and that means more eating. It’s after the holidays that I am worried about though. Is there anything I can do around the home to curb overeating?

Rather than approaching this from a feng shui perspective, I’ve gathered information from various environmental psychological studies, because most of the information in feng shui is geared toward enhancing appetite, not suppressing it.

Environmental influences on food consumption


Hopefully, you can use the following questions and answers to raise your awareness and guide your eating behavior this festive season.

• 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. On the flip side, studies show that when tension is present during a meal, we eat less — not the best solution for overeating, though.

• How much food is visible?


The more food you can see in the room, the more you will eat. Kitchens are getting bigger and are more open than ever before, exposing us to more visual and sensory cues for eating — a table laden with holiday dishes and their distinctive smells — causing us to consume greater amounts.

• How accessible is the food?

The more accessible the food, the faster and the more we eat. Studies showed that by moving candy bowls just 6 feet away in the same room, intake was reduced by half, showing that the longer the distance to the food, the more opportunity we have to pause and consider whether or not we really want more. • 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.

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