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Food Shui & Other Effortless Ways to Eat Healthy

Food Shui is an easy way to eat more healthfully.
Food Shui is an easy way to eat more healthfully.

Food shui© is a term the author invented based on the Chinese practice of "feng shui," where location and arrangement of objects is thought to influence energy and outcomes on humans. Food shui is the practice of placing food strategically in the home to support healthful eating habits.

Food shui and other simple practices can help form positive eating habits with relatively little effort. Below are five practices to consider for those looking to improve health or weight outcomes with minimal effort.

Food Shui

A 2021 study published in BMC Public Health suggested that adults tend to eat food that is the most visible and accessible. We can use this information to eat healthier through what I call "food shui." Here's how to incorporate food shui into your home:

  • Thoughtfully set-up the kitchen by leaving fruit in a bowl on the counter so it's the first thing seen when hunger strikes.

  • Pre-cut vegetables and keep them on the top shelf of the fridge so they are easy to see and grab quickly for a snack.

  • While it's best not to bring the sweets and high saturated fat snacks into the house to begin with, if they are in the home, keep them hidden away so there's more effort to eat the calorie-dense foods than the nutrient-dense foods.

Make a Grocery List

Before grocery shopping, plan meals for the week and list the ingredients needed for the meals. Once at the store, stick to the list and don't buy anything that's not written down. Research demonstrates people who stick to lists spend less money and those who grocery shop eat healthier than those who eat out often. (1,2)

Eat Mindfully

Eating mindfully begins with building the meal with health in mind. Strive to build the meal with:

Eating mindfully begins with setting up MyPlate with health in mind.
MyPlate graphic credit: USDA

  • half the plate made up of fruits or vegetables

  • one-quarter of the plate made up of protein

  • one-quarter of the plate made up of whole grains

When sitting down to eat, be grateful for the food, observe it, and smell it before taking a bite. Eat slowly and put the fork down between bites. Wait 20 minutes before getting seconds; it takes this long for the body to recognize that it's full.

Start the meal with Protein

When sitting down to the meal:

  1. Eat protein first

  2. Eat veggies second

  3. End with the starch

This will prime the liver for insulin secretion and help increase the feeling of fullness from nutrient-packed foods before indulging in higher calorie, higher sugar foods like bread or pasta.

Nutrition First, Treats Second

Similar to the tip above about eating foods in a specific order to optimize nutrition intake and metabolism, individuals can set-up their day that way as well.

Pick one nutrition goal to shoot for everyday. If the goal has been attained and there is still a craving for a treat, eat it knowing the body's already been nourished.

Example 1:

For instance, if eating more fruits and vegetables is the goal, be specific with a number like "eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day." (For a breakdown on what counts as a serving, click here).

If five servings of fruits and vegetables have been consumed, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants have nourished the body and it's reasonable to enjoy the treat at the end of the day.

Maybe it's cheesy garlic bread, a snack-sized bag of chips, or 2 scoops of Ben & Jerry's. Of course, you cannot live on fruits, vegetables, and treats alone, so keep in mind this is a goal and not a menu.

Example 2:

Another popular goal is eating sufficient protein throughout the day. This varies from person to person. (To find out how much you need, make a quick virtual appointment here). Once you know your target, eating sufficient protein is a smart goal for vegetarians, vegans, people recovering from injury or illness, athletes, growing teens, or and people over 55 years old.

Once the protein goal has been achieved for the day, feel comfortable indulging in a sweet or salty snack.

My virtual door is always open and I'm happy to coach you on eating healthier, setting nutrition goals, or managing a condition with nutrition.

You can book a virtual appointment with a Registered Dietitian online if you are a resident of CA, CO, MI, AZ, or VA.

Remember, food is the zest of life and is meant to be enjoyed!


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