Here’s Why You Should Have Fruit In Your Kitchen
In the last 100 years, we have experienced a massive increase in the availability of processed foods. There are more fast food restaurants and food delivery services than ever before. The ease of access to calorie-dense delicious food has made it quite challenging to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Especially since our bodies are wired to crave sweet, salty and fatty food due to the scarcity of food that occurred for thousands of years.
How Do We Overcome This?
Most of us know which foods are bad for us, yet we still consume them on a regular basis. Even I am guilty of this. I don't have the highest amount of willpower to resist pizza and other delicious treats when they are in front of me. However, I am aware of this, so I set my environment up to help my diet, not hinder it. For example, I have added a fruit basket to my kitchen to encourage more fruit consumption. So now every time I walk into my kitchen I am reminded to have fruit as a snack instead of processed food. On the contrary, if my kitchen consisted of calorie dense, nutrient lacking foods (chips, candy, cookies) then I would consume too many calories and gain weight. For me, it is much harder to adhere to my diet at night versus the day. So having a safe food environment at night is crucial for success.
Why Is It Easier To Say No During The Day?
In Robert Sapolsky book Behave, he states that willpower is a finite resource that diminishes with cognitive load (Sapolsky, 2017, p 49). Put simply, you will have less willpower at the end of the day versus the beginning of the day due to the decisions you make throughout the day. As the number of difficult decisions increase; willpower and motivation decrease. And with less willpower, there will be an increased temptation to give in to those tasty snacks in your kitchen. But if you only have healthy food choices in the house then you are taking the decision making out of the picture. So when you get a craving for something sweet you will grab the piece of fruit instead of the milk chocolate bar. These decisions may seem small, but usually, we underestimate the amount of calories in snacks. When these behaviors go unchecked for a couple months weight gain is the result.
Is Fruit The Answer?
The study, Slim By Design: Kitchen Counter Correlates of Obesity done by Brian Wansink and colleagues found the same. The purpose of the study was to find out whether or not the presence of certain foods on a kitchen table associated with a certain body composition. In the first study, 500 households were asked to inventory their kitchen and provide their height and weight. In the second study, researchers photographed and cataloged 210 households and measured the occupants’ height and weight.
The authors found the presence of fruit on the counter to be associated with better body composition in both studies, but the presence of processed foods (candy, cereal, soft drinks, and dried fruit) was associated with weight differences that ranged from 20.75 to 31.7 pounds (2). Even though the results were correlation based, the authors recommend clearing everything off of your kitchen table except for fruit (2). The take-home message is simple, but easier said than done. Set up your home environment with healthy food choices so that you won’t be tempted to eat calorie dense processed foods.
Sapolsky, R. M. (2017). Behave: The biology of humans at our best and worst.
Wansink B, Hanks AS, Kaipainen K. Slim by Design: Kitchen Counter Correlates of Obesity. Health Educ Behav. 2016 Oct;43(5):552-8. doi: 10.1177/1090198115610571. Epub 2015 Oct 19. PubMed PMID: 26481966.