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We all know that what’s inside our fridges, freezers, and cupboards is going to have a fairly significant impact on our health.

But now new research has suggested that how your kitchen is laid-out is just as influential when it comes to keeping trim.

Yes, following an in-depth study at the Food And Brand Lab at Cornell University, scientists have announced: “The food on our counters, the smells in the kitchen, the lighting in the room and even the colour of the walls can contribute to obesity.”

So, what can we do? Well, the university also has tops tips that makes for some rather interesting reading…


1) Keep your blender or juicer out on the counter:

“When you have that craving for something sweet, the blender might just serve as a reminder that healthy fruit smoothies can satisfy that urge.”

2) Keep bread in fridge

“Bread can be a healthy snack, but if eaten too frequently, it will lead to extra pounds. Keep the fruit on the counter and put the bread away so the lower calorie snacks are easier to grab.”

3) Cover high-calorie items with tinfoil and the more nutritious items with cling-film

“Hiding temptations can help you remember to eat fruits and vegetables. This can keep you from eating 120 extra calories a day.”

4) Keep a jug of flavoured water

“Water infused with fruit can satisfy our craving without loading us down with extra calories. Compared to soda, drinking water can save you 100 calories per 8 fluid ounce glass.”

5) Serve up your dinner before you put the plates on the table

“People who use this strategy eat 19 percent less food, which can be beneficial to the waistline in the long run.

6) Dim your kitchen lights

Doing so can help you “eat more mindfully, resulting in 175 fewer calories per meal.”

7) Paint your kitchen in neutral tones

“Brighter tones cause us to feel anxious so we eat faster; darker tones relax us so we take more time to eat and might eat more. A neutral colour can help avoid either extreme.”

8) Use air fresheners

“Clean, fresh scents most likely will not trigger our memories of delicious foods or spark a craving for something sweet ­— helping us avoid unnecessary snacking.”


Natalie White never really struggled with her weight during college.

However – like a lot of people – she found it more difficult to keep fit and trim once she started working.

“When I graduated, I picked up a management job that required me to be at work at 4am and work 55 hours a week,” she explains.

Obviously, I was very tired. Since I was exhausted, I never felt like cooking, so I resorted to frozen food, fast food, pretty much anything quick and easy… my exercise habits were non-existent.”

In fact, by the time she turned 30, she packed on about 22.5kg. Then a health-scare at her doctor’s proved to be wake-up call she needed. “I needed to start treating my body better. 

“I started making healthy changes: I stopped smoking, I went vegetarian, and I kept an eye on the foods I was putting in my body. 

“I also left my job to find something that wasn't as stressful or exhausting. However, I still wasn't losing weight.”

Natalie admits that she “could never be one of those super fit people,” but intrigued by friends who entered endurance events, she put name down for the Chicago marathon.

“I had to just do it – so I started training,” she also explains to Women’s Health.

“It took me over seven hours to finish my first marathon, but I finished! It was the best feeling ever. I signed up for another one soon after.”

Still, at that point Natalie weighed some 93kg. “I knew I had to do something different to start losing weight.

“Obviously, training for my second marathon and participating in fitness events, like the Spartan Race, weren't enough to help me reach a healthy weight.”

She turned to classes which championed strength training and weights mixed up with cardio exercises in circuits. “It was like nothing I'd ever done before,” she says of the programme.

“During my first class, I could barely do a pushup or a squat, but the challenge brought out my inner competitor.

“I started going twice a week and worked my way up to four times a week.

“On top of that, I started to do a little research online about what it takes to lose weight and fuel my workouts. I learned that I needed to eat way more protein that I was, and that actually made the biggest difference.

“I started to notice more definition in my muscles, and the weight began coming off.”

Two years after setting out to get in shape and improve her health, Natalie weighs just 74kg – a reduction of close-to 20kg from her heaviest.

Although ultimately she hopes to hover around the 64kg mark, she’s also gone from a UK size 22 to a UK size 12.


Along the way, Ms White has clearly learned a lot about her body and diet. And she cites six key tips that help just about everyone achieve similar results…

1) Make life changes: She had to leave a stressful job with long hours – but nothing is worth compromising your health over. Natalie also quit smoking.

2) Don’t get overwhelmed: Natalie has knocked two hours off her marathon time – but her first one took more than seven hours. “I had to just do it – so I started training,” she states.

3) Be patient: She isn’t at her goal weight just yet, but she’s getting there. “By staying patient and being consistent, I don't get discouraged and give up on all the progress I've made,” she says.

4) Look at your diet: You need protein to feed your muscles – so don’t fall into the trap of only going low-fat, or low-carb. Natalia, like a lot of women, wasn’t eating enough protein when she was overweight.

5) Try new workouts: “I love running,” she says, “but if I didn't try the weights classes with my friends, I would have never achieved the results that I wanted or learned that I like to lift heavy things.”

6) Be OK with yourself: “I know I'm not as fast or as strong as some of my athletic friends, but I feel good about what I've accomplished. That success helps me feel confident at the gym and assures me that I'm capable of reaching my weight-loss goal.”


So your diet is reasonably good: you eat your five-a-day (usually), and can make a mean tofu stir-fry from scratch. You even make time for exercise.

But guess what? You’re still carrying those stubborn extra pounds and, being honest, you know you’re not quite at your best.

For many otherwise healthy folk, the issue is often over-eating: you’re the first to polish off the food on your plate and the first to dart back to the kitchen for seconds.

You’re a snacker; you love great big bowls of cereal in the evening before bed and tea and toast in between meals. You pick at nuts, fruit and yogurts when you know you shouldn’t.

Granted, it’s a tough habit to crack… but to help you along your way, SHEmazing! has identified the most common reasons for eating more than you should…


1) You say… I deserve a treat:

Not least in this country, we love to celebrate with food and drink. Milestone events, birthdays, anniversaries and promotions at work: many of us are liable to mark the occasion with a blow-out meal.

Then there are the smaller, little treats that quickly become a habit – the ‘I totally deserve that family-sized bag of Maltesers,’ mentality.

It works both ways too – because a fight with your best friend or boyfriend, a set-back at college or just a bit of a crap day is often reason enough to ‘treat yourself’ to a load of chocolate, wine or crisps.

What should you do about it? Start noting all the times and ways you reward yourself with food: ideally, it should be no more than once or twice a week. More than that? Cut back.


2) You say… Feck it!

Some people are brilliant at self-control. They open a bar of Galaxy, take out a single square, and put the rest back for another time.

Some people are less restrained. And for them, one slice of pizza usually means four; one biscuit usually means half the pack (and a bag of Chipsticks chaser).

But a little indulgence doesn’t mean the whole diet has to go out the window – and yes, a little high-calorie food is hardly the end of the world.

The difference is in the quantity: inhaling eight biscuits versus having just two could be as much as 1,000 calories – or, ya know, two hours of advanced spin at the gym.

Remind yourself that while you certainly don’t have to commit to never looking at a slice of cake again, eating the whole cake at once is always a bad idea – not least for your waistline.


3) You say… I shouldn’t have done that

Guilt, shame, regret: you beat yourself up bad when you hit the chipper, or have a giant pizza with garlic bread.

It’s the ultimate morning-after-the-night-before humiliation: you feel crap about yourself, and are pretty sure you’ve managed to gain 2-3kg overnight.

Relax! In fact, research shows that giving yourself a hard time over food only leads you back to the fridge for more. One study at the University Of Toronto, for example, rigged scales to make dieters think they had gained 5lbs even though the participants had actually lost weight.

Those who felt greater shame about their weight gain subsequently ate more ice cream than those who weren’t as bothered by their results.

So instead of regret, vow to do better the next time and simply move on.


4) You say… I’ll just check my email

This is a major issue: you’re not actually able to enjoy a meal – alone or otherwise – without being glued to your phone or laptop.

In fact, between grabbing breakfast on the way into college or work, eating lunch at your desk or in the library, and then having dinner with the TV on and your phone buzzing away beside you, focusing on the task in hand – eating and enjoying a nutritious meal – is a pickle.

Yet we know that multitasking lessens your body’s ability to sense the amount of food you are actually muching on. In fact, research proves that eating while you watch a screen of any kind only leads to consuming more food.

And one British study found that those who could recall exactly what they ate for lunch chomped through 30 percent less than those who couldn’t.

The lesson? Get out of the habit of having your electronic devices glued to your person at all times. Just being mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth and when can go a long way to reducing your waistline.


5) You say… I’m wrecked

A basic lack of sleep has major implications on your ability to control overeating. Furthermore, being tired saps your willpower: you’re a lot less likely to begin preparing a healthy meal from scratch in the evening if you can barely keep your eyes open.

A 2013 study found that not getting enough sleep can cause people to eat up to 5 percent more calories per day – something which will really add up by the end of the week.

So focus on getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night to help strengthen your dietary resolve and curb overeating.

And for best results, try to keep a consistent sleep schedule too: burning the candle at both ends all week only to binge-sleep at the weekends just isn’t as effective.



So once again it’s Monday – the ultimate day of good intentions and solid aspirations to change for the better.

But it you feel like you need a serious kick up the bum when it comes to your diet (especially if your weekend meals consisted of chipper, Eddies, pizza and noodles), there are a few simple steps that can make a real difference.

For one, it’s time to stock up on the following:

Fillet steak: Good quality beef – of which this country is awash – is great for giving you a dose of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a compound that studies have shown help to whittle your core. (PS for the more adventurous, kangaroo meat is also high in CLA).

Coconut flakes: So long as they’re unsweetened (check the label) they're loaded with medium-chain triglycerides that are burned as energy rather than stored like other fats. Hurrah!

Spinach: Studies have shown that a spinach-packed juice every morning can really help you shed weight. The reason? Thylakoids – which are found in abundance in leafy greens such as spinach. They help you to keep you full AND burn fat. Double-win.

Barley: Great for when you need a carb-hit but want to stay away from an entire loaf of Brennan’s batch bread. Barley just doesn’t get the praise it deserves, in fact. Stick it in a soup or casserole, or cook it on its own as an alternative to rice.

Cherries: We all know that staying up late is bad news for your waist-line – so get a really good night’s sleep by snacking on cherries. They’re a natural source of the sleep hormone melatonin – something which helps to regulate your hunger.

And if you're looking to lose weight fast, don’t forget about these gems either:

  1. Yogurt
  2. Tomato
  3. Balsamic vinegar
  4. Honey
  5. Almond butter
  6. Cinnamon
  7. Garlic
  8. Lime
  9. Coriander
  10. Dark chocolate


PLUS! Two easy-peasy sweet treats to try…

Crunchy energy bites
Mix together 3 tbsp honey, 175g uncooked barley, 50g chopped cherries, 4 tbsp almond butter, and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon.

Roll into eight circles (like a biscuit), and place on parchment paper.

Then refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, before serving. 

Keep in a lunch box until you want more.

Chocolate-covered cherries
Break 30g of good-quality dark chocolate into a heatproof bowl.

Microwave for 15seconds before removing and stirring. Pop back in for ten seconds if required, and repeat until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Then dip four/six whole cherries in the chocolate to coat.

Place on a plate and sprinkle with one generous tsp of coconut flakes.

Eat immediately!