How Your Refrigerator Can Help You Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

by Donna Stellhorn
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Keep Healthy Foods at Eye Level

While your refrigerator drawers are great for storing fruits and vegetables, they do nothing to help you eat healthier. In fact, in most people’s refrigerators fruits and vegetables in the crisper are forgotten, left to shrink and get fuzzy. Studies show we Americans throw out almost a third of the food we buy (FAO, 2013). It’s doubtful we’re all tossing out cupcakes and donuts.
We “shop” in our kitchens like we shop in a grocery store. Most often we reach for the item on the shelf that’s clearly visible and within easy reach. This tendency has been studied in school cafeterias where placing the carrot sticks at eye level resulted in consumption rising nearly 25{44c8773cfc5435cd81ad20e0c4d9124b8149e87e023df21bb722cbe5a8d7cc51} (Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein). Likewise when dessert was prominently displayed more kids chose to eat the dessert.

The number of fruits and vegetables you eat changes based on where you store them in the refrigerator. The moment you open the refrigerator door, your brain starts calculating the choices and, more importantly, your brain starts to decide whether it has enough energy for another choice. In the book, Mindless Eating, Brian Wansink noted we make about 200 food-related decisions a day. With this overwhelming number of decisions, our brains will look for short cuts. Thus we tend to reach for things we can see and that rest at eye level.
Wansink also found that when people could see a food they were more likely to choose that food. It’s because when we see a particular food item we both think about the food and our bodies actually start to prepare to receive the food. The chemical reaction in our bodies is why just looking at food makes us hungry. But if you see cake and your body is preparing for cake it’s hard to get excited about broccoli.
Buckminster Fuller said, “environment is stronger than willpower”.
Set up your refrigerator to support your healthy weight goals. Place the fruits and veggies you plan to eat over the next day or so in a bowl that sits at eye level in the fridge. You will be surprised how effective this is!
Donna Stellhorn
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