Have you ever found yourself standing in front of an open pantry or refrigerator carefully inspecting its contents in search of something that seems appealing to eat?

We make more than 200 food-related decisions per day and are unaware of 90 percent of them. In a phenomenon called mindless eating, a term coined by psychologist and Cornell University consumer behavior professor Brian Wansink, research suggests that our eyes, rather than our stomachs, really do dictate how much we end up eating.

Eating less may be easier than you think! By making simple changes to your environment, you might be able to eat less without really thinking about it. So what is on the menu for a healthy kitchen?

Good Things Come in Small Packages. We eat more from bigger packages. Instead of eating directly out of a package or box, put snacks in a separate dish or snack-size baggies, and leave the box in the kitchen. The smaller the serving container, the less you’ll serve yourself!

Buy Smaller Serving Dishes. Size matters. We eat 72 percent of our calories from food in bowls, plates and glasses. Drink from tall, slender glasses instead of short, wide ones. You’ll pour yourself less. Did you know if you eat off a 12-inch dinner plate instead of a 10-inch one, you’re likely to eat about 22 percent more? Same applies for serving spoons. When you use a larger spoon to dish up the meal, you’re likely to consume up to 14.5 percent more than you would with a small spoon.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind. We crave food most when we see it. If you’re going to grab food that crosses your field of vision, a bowl of fruit or vegetables sitting in plain view will encourage you to grab healthy snacks instead. Even placing healthy options at eye level in the refrigerator and pantry will inspire eating mindfully.

See It Before You Eat It. Plate your food beforehand, and leave the serving dishes in the kitchen. When people pre-plate their food, they eat 14 percent less than when they take smaller amounts and go back for seconds.

Location, Location, Location. Be in the moment, and present while you are eating. If you eat in front of the television, in bed or standing in the kitchen, you may have an urge to eat simply from being in that location. Make it a family rule to limit eating to one or two rooms in the house. This will decrease triggers, and help you focus on enjoying your food without distractions.


Tangy Citrus, Fennel, and Avocado Salad

Servings: 6

Prep: 25min

From Hy-Vee Balance Magazine

Using citrus zest and juice gives this simple salad a bold and bright flavor.


1 fennel bulb, stalks removed and cored

4 oranges, a variety; such as: navel, blood, cara cara, or minneola

2 mandarin oranges

1 pink grapefruit

2 c. mixed salad greens

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced

2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. orange zest

2 tbsp. fresh orange juice

1 to 2 tsp. honey

⅓ c. extra virgin olive oil

¼ c. crumbled feta or goat cheese, about 1-oz.

2 tbsp. chopped walnuts, toasted

Fennel fronds, for garnish

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Trim tough outer leaves from fennel. Thinly slice bulb into slivers using a mandoline or sharp knife. Set aside.

2. Cut peels from oranges, mandarins, and grapefruit. Discard peel and cut citrus crosswise into slices. Place greens on a serving platter or in a shallow bowl. Arrange citrus, avocado, and fennel on top.

3. Combine balsamic vinegar, orange zest and juice and honey in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad; sprinkle with cheese crumbles and walnuts. Garnish with fennel fronds, if desired. Season to taste with pepper.

Nutrition facts, per serving:

290 calories

Total fat: 20g

Saturated fat: 3.5g

Trans fat: 0g

Cholesterol: 5mg

Sodium: 95mg

Total carbohydrates: 29g

Dietary fiber: 7g

Total sugars: 18g

Added sugars: 1g

Protein: 4g

Iron: 6%

Calcium: 10%

Vitamin D: 0%

Potassium: 15%

Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location. The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at tshaffer@hy-vee.com.