How would you like to improve with your family’s perception of your cooking? How would you like to accomplish that without taking a cooking class? Assuming you can handle basic cooking skills, there are two little psychological tricks you can do to make your meals seem better and more delicious. According to Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating, they’re used by restaurants as a way to drum up business and to keep customers returning.
Setting Up the Meal
Don’t just plop your dinner on the table; instead create a relaxing environment. Many sit down restaurants keep the lights soft and the mood mellow. While most of us can convert out dinning area into a five start restaurant, with 15 minutes or effort, we can make dinner seem more appetizing.
Bring out your nice dishes, tablecloth, and glasses once in a while for a special family meal. Bringing out the candles can also enhance the appearance of the food and encourage us to slow down and enjoy the meal instead of just stuffing it.
Menu-ize your Meals
Have you ever noticed how some of the popular restaurants have menus that just make you crave the meals? Have you’ve seen the descriptions and then debated with yourself over which item you’re going to get?
Try incorporating more descriptions with your meals. When it’s your night to cook, let your spouse know that you’re preparing ‘fried shrimp with savory lemon butter and a side of pasta’ instead of ‘shrimp and pasta’. It may take getting used to, but it encourages you to step it up a notch and your husband or wife will be thinking about it all day.
Don’t know how to find the right words to describe your meal just right? Go ahead, download some restaurant menus, and get inspired.
Thoughts on the Perception of Meals
How about you? Have you’ve done this with your family? What has been their reaction?
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reviewing information about common eating blunders. I thought it would be helpful to continue the series with something that many of us are guilty of: stuffing ourselves at parties. I’ve had several jobs with office parties filled with a ton of food.
Many times I not only ate way too much, but I filled myself up on the heavy foods. Slowly I gained weight from it and I realized I needed to keep myself in check.
Tips to Enjoy the Party and Help Your Waistline
Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink offered some practical tips based on food lab studies that I wanted to share and offer my personal observations and comments on:
Sit as far away from the buffet table as you can. It sounds too simple, but when running a test with secretaries, moving a candy dish from their desk to the filing cabinet cut consumption by a little more than half. Making access to the food a little harder can have big results.
Limit how many items you put on your plate. Interesting idea – Wansink suggests limiting it to two items at a time.
Fill up on the good stuff first. If you want to fill up, then try to eat the healthier options at first. You’ll be less likely to stuff yourself with the unhealthier items from the buffet table.
Focus on either people or the food, not both. If you’re trying to multi-task, you could be eating more calories that you want to. That’s because when we’re distracted, we tend to eat more.
Arrive late or leave early for a buffet. If you know that you’ll be hovering around the buffet table the whole time, try limiting the time you spend at the party.
I did some of these tips at the last party I attended and it helped. I had a plate for dinner and limited my dessert plate (actually had my husband get it to make sure I didn’t overdo the sweets).
Thoughts on Party Bingers
Bottom line for me is having fun at a party. If I have ot count calories or measure out what I eat, I’d have a much harder time keeping with my goals. I really like most of the tips offered because they’re 1) easy to do and 2) small changes to my routine.
I’d love to get your feedback on this topic. Do you feel tempted to dive into the food at parties? Why or why not? If so, how do you keep your consumption in check?
After last week’s post on improving on my snacking habits, I thought it would be helpful to continue on with other common food habits that can sabotage our eating goals. This week I want to share one of my biggest challenges when I worked at the office – eating at my desk. Even if I had an hour to eat my lunch, just staying at my desk sped me up with with eating.
Tips to Becoming a Mindful Eater at the Office
Mindles Eating by Brian Wansink offered some practical tips based on food lab studies that I wanted to share and offer my personal observations and comments on:
Include more water in your routine. I’m not a water fan. I can’t just drink water, but I’ve been able to adjust my routine. Swapping water instead of soda, coffee, or tea throughout the day can help. Cutting back even 1 soda can (approximately 140 calories) a day can save you from gaining 14lbs a year.
Brown bag your lunch more. Wansink isn’t suggesting that people just brown bag all their lunches, he’s encouraging a tweak, an adjustment.
Keep healthy options nearby. Admit it – one reason we grab stuff from the vending machine is its convenience. Keeping healthy options in the fridge can make a big difference. A favorite snack of mine? Frozen grapes. My friend told me about it and I love it. It’s the perfect bite size snack.
Wansink has a few tips, but I wanted to highlight my favorites from the list. I can honestly say that having a cold cup of water with my meals has been great. I didn’t realize that some of the hunger I felt was actually thirst.
Thoughts on Munching at the Office
I’d love to get your feedback on this topic. How do you keep from just grabbing something quick around the office? What has been the hardest to adjust? What has been the easiest?
I don’t always crave junk food though, so my weight has been roughly in the normal weight range for my height. There have been times however when I’ve noticed the weight creeping up and my energy levels dipping from snacking on unhealthy foods.
Since I’m pregnant, I’m trying to become even more mindful of my snacking habits. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve fell for the convenience and charm of that box of Twinkies in the pantry. People have told me that I’m eating for two, but that doesn’t mean I want to double my calorie intake. I’ve been working on increase my calories appropriately with healthy and delicious food.
Tips to Becoming a Mindful Snacker
Curious to see if there were any books on the topic, I stopped by my local library and found a few. One that caught my eye was Mindles Eating by Brian Wansink, a director at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. His book offered some practical tips based on food lab studies that I wanted to share and offer my personal observations and comments on:
Think back: If you have high calorie / unhealthy foods that you constantly snack on, Wansink suggests moving them to the back of your refrigerator, pantry, cupboards, etc. Make it a bit harder to reach and you can cut back on your mindless snacking habits.
Don’t buy snacks ahead of time: Besides making it easier for you to indulge in your snacking habits, not buying unhealthy foods can also trim a bit off of your grocery bill. I’ve found that not having boxes of snack cakes in the house encourages me to eat more fruit. When we have friends over I encourage them to take some of the snacks with them. When we have leftovers they usually end up being eaten in a day or two.
Substitute your cravings: Wansink suggests finding foods that have similar textures, such as crunchy vegetables. I have a sweet tooth, so I try to have yogurt and some Kashi around the house for snacks.
Chew gum: This tip is to help reduce consumption of chips, cookies, ice cream, and candy.
Place healthy foods in sight: The opposite of the first tip, Wansink suggests that you make healthy option easily assessable to you whenever you want to graze. You’ll satisfy your personal eating habits, but you’ll be improving your health as well. I’ll let you know that this has worked for me and helped me by having fruits readily available.
Thoughts on Snacking
I really like most of the tips offered because they’re 1) easy to do and 2) small changes to my routine. I’m not looking to diet (as most people associate with the word). Instead I’m looking to tweak my eating patterns into something beneficial and enjoyable. I still think food is fun.
I’d love to get your feedback on this topic. How do you keep your snacking habit in check? What has been the hardest to adjust? What has been the easiest?
Thanks for visiting Married Food! We’re excited about sharing our love for food with others and learning from one another. Topics we’ll cover include, but aren’t limited to:
Cooking Tips & Tricks: Something that I enjoy learning from my friends is tricks on saving time in the kitchen. I truly believe that making people feel comfortable in the kitchen helps them to make better choices.
Family and Health: Food has an impressive effect on our health and we want to address topics that affect us. We won’t talk much about specific diets you should or shouldn’t do, but rather look at the components to a balanced and reasonable diet.
Favorite Bites: Do you have a favorite restaurant, CSA program, or local chef? We’ll share ours and I hope you submit your own picks.
Food for Thought: A topic that interest me is how food is psychology and marketing are involves with our food choices nowadays. We’ll look at how we can take external cues and improve our diets.
Global Tastes: We want to share culture behind global cuisine and have some overviews about certain cuisines.
Munch and Money: For many people if they can finding affordable and delicious food, they’ll support it. We’ll include tips on how to manage and optimize your grocery bills to keep your food budget in control.
Recipes: Please feel free to submit and share your favorite recipes.
Sustainable Food: From the farm to your plate, we want discuss locally sourced food and viable options for couples and families.
Married Food is more focused as food & lifestyle blog rather than having just quick and easy recipe site. It’ll grow as we get your ideas on it.
Married Food Contributors
Since I believe enjoying food is enhanced with others, I asked around to see if there were any like minded bloggers for the site. I was grateful to have some step up and offer their expertise.
Elle: That would be me 🙂 My husband and I are like most people – we wanted to eat better, but we needed to find a way to incorporate our personal habits. We started switching our diet to less processed options and found that not only did we get healthier, but we enjoyed food more. I’ll share reviews, tips, and books that have helped us make the transition. I also write over at Couple Money and discuss balancing family and finances.
Wojo: A food fan, Wojo told me he loves sharing his kitchen knowledge with his friends. He also has many global dishes at his home and he’s a fan of Top chef. He’s also a writer at Fiscal Fizzle where he discusses personal finance.
Kay Lynn: She’s a busy grandmother of six and mother of five children who appreciate sharing practical and time saving tips. In addition to writing here, she also write about preparing for retirement at Bucksome Boomer.
Audrey: She’s the voice behind Wifey of a Roadie, one of my favorite blogs on travel and more. She adds her unique take as she travels around the world. Do you eat on the go a lot? I think you’ll enjoy M’s recommendations and tips.
What I’m excited about is the diversity of interest and skill levels with all the contributors here on the site. With 3 of us also writing about personal finance I also think you’ll see plenty of financially practical tips to help you find good food for your family.
Joining the Married Food Community
I hope you’ll take some time to become part of the Married Food community! Please consider subscribing to Married Food through email updates or RSS subscription. We welcome recipes, ideas, and feedback.