The environment that you eat in can dictate how you eat, so what can you do stay mindful of your behavior? Stay in check with these 4 tips.


Emotional eating tends to be a common struggle for many people. The majority are unaware that simple changes in their surroundings can make a big difference in their decision to eat out of boredom, stress, or sadness.

You may recall hearing that restaurants use specific lighting, colors and music to encourage people to stay longer and eat more.  In another research study from Cornell University, investigators famously provided free popcorn in different sizes to moviegoers to observe how much each person consumed by the end. Those with the larger size ate significantly more than those who were given a smaller size, even if the popcorn was stale.

These studies illustrate just how much your surroundings, package, and container size can impact consumption behavior, including overeating.  Eating to the point of fullness, of course, is fine on occasion, but that likely doesn’t feel great when it happens routinely.

Here are a few tips to help you be mindful of your food environment:

1. Serve yourself dinner in the kitchen instead of at the table.

This reminds you to check in with your hunger before walking over to the kitchen to get seconds or thirds. If you are still hungry, by all means honor that. However when serving dishes are within easy reach, it can be easy to grab more without thinking twice (especially if you are having great conversation – which hopefully you are!).  

2. If you’re a wine drinker, be mindful of different styles of glasses.

Wine glasses range in size from really small (think champagne flutes) to really large. Each shape is designed for specific wine varieties. Because of this, a standard serving can look really different based on which one you use. Knowing this can help you gauge your intake better.

3. Grab a portion of snacks instead of eating straight from the package.

This is a classic but it’s effective. Stocking and using some small snack dishes can help you avoid mindless eating from that bag of chips.

4. Keep fresh food prepped and easy to grab.

The last thing most of us want to do at the end of a long day is wash and chop vegetables. Set yourself up for success by having something fresh ready to go when you want it, whether it be a pre-dinner snack or tomorrow’s packed lunch.  A few ideas include:

    • Carrots, celery and red bell pepper strips (for dipping in hummus, nut butter or ranch)
    • Pasta/bean salads
  • Washed/chopped fruit

By being more in tune with your food environment, you’ll be set up for success in no time!


Leanne Ray, MS, RDN is a Denver-based Registered Dietitian empowering women to sustain healthy lifestyles that are practical and realistic. By helping others find happiness and joy through delicious foods that don’t involve guilt or stress, she shares how healthy eating can involve satisfaction instead of boring, low-calorie diets. Visit her site to read more from Leanne.

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