Designing a Weight Loss Food Environment

If you're trying to lose weight, you know how difficult it can be to stay the course long-term. Maintaining a positive weight loss environment can help you every day by limiting your exposure to trigger foods and difficult social situations. When temptation sneaks up on me, I'm reminded of the need to keep my food environment clean. There's a reason I was overweight and a reason that I don't buy junk anymore. Although my will power has improved greatly, I still have a sweet tooth and will indulge if the stuff is around. At this point, I know I will get back on track pretty quickly. But I still find it easier to say "no" to junk food at the grocery store than when it's in my house.

One of the most important ways to achieve lasting weight loss success is to create an environment that supports healthy living. Your food environment includes home/family, work/school, and social/friends. All three need to be considered and designed with care to achieve a permanent change in your life.

Jettison the junk. Go through your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer and toss all the junk. Processed junk,
chips, cookies, ice cream, or anything that triggers you to overeat are fair game here. Don't worry about wasting food; most of what you are throwing out shouldn't be considered real food anyway.

Plan your meals. Plan for a week at a time and spend some time on the weekend preparing meals and snacks. Have snacks readily available for when hunger strikes. Use fresh whole ingredients as much as possible. Meals at home should outnumber restaurant meals.

Don't buy more junk. Now that you've gotten rid of the junk, don't buy it again. Keeping it out of your house is the best way to keep from eating it. Shop with the list you made while planning your meals.

Eat at the table. Turning off the TV and not allowing electronics at the table helps the family focus on the meal and each other. Family meals have proven to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in children.
Eat simply. The more basic your food, the easier it is to track, record and control. Studies have shown that people who eat the same basic meals regularly consume fewer calories.


Bring your lunch. Don't rely on vending machines to supply your food away from home. When you plan your weekly meals, plan for lunches at work at the same time. Avoid eating every day at restaurants.

Plan for workplace events. Many workplaces celebrate every occasion with food and it tends to be the unhealthy kind. Vendors bring in treats, coworkers celebrate birthdays, and every holiday presents traditions of food and drink. You will need to abstain, bring something of your own, or plan your calorie expenditures around the expected treats.

Be aware of social habits. You don't want to give up your friends, but be aware that you tend to look like the people you hang out with. Obesity has been proven to be "socially contagious". Maybe you can change where you meet for lunches, or even do something else when you get together. Do your outings always have to center around food?

Don't drink your calories. Happy hour is fun but you may want to give up some of your drinks while trying to lose weight. The calories will be better spent on food that will nourish you, fill you up, and help you reach your goal at the same time. You can be the designated driver for now and have your drink later.

Resist sabotage. Real friends will always support you, even if your success makes them uncomfortable. The "friends" who constantly tempt you with goodies that you shouldn't have, are not friends at all and should be jettisoned along with the junk food in your environment.

Joan Kerrigan is a personal trainer, running coach, massage therapist, and fitness writer. After losing substantial weight, she started her company Fit Journey 50 to help others become fitter and healthier, no matter their age. She is NASM certified, with advanced certifications as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Senior Fitness Specialist.

 Always working to maintain a healthy food environment, she lives in New Jersey with her husband and dog. She spends time writing, training, running, and competing in local races as an age group competitor. You can find more about Joan's books at and follow her blog at
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