There are a lot of things that we take control of in our day-to-day lives. Choosing to bike or carpool to work, picking out an outfit in the morning, selecting one coffee shop over another (and that's just all before 9 a.m.!). And while you may think your personal mission to lose weight is just that, entirely reliant on your own choices, the truth is that there are a whole lot of external factors outside of your control that effect your personal journey.
That's right: External factors have an equal, if not greater impact on America's growing waistline. Get this: Your chance of becoming obese increases by 37 percent if your spouse is obese, 40 percent if your sibling is obese, and 57 percent if one of your close friends is obese.
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That's where Harvard researchers Dr. Walter Willett and Dr. Malissa Wood, authors of the new book Thinfluence, come in. According to Willett and Wood, taking control of your personal food environment can help set the stage for a healthier weight. That's right, your food environment. Whether it is inside your home, in your immediate neighborhood, or in your community as a whole, the foods you surround yourself with play a major role in how you manage your weight -- no matter who you're interacting with in the process.
The good news? You can take things into your own hands in your own home, and the steps you take toward a healthier home food environment need not to be extreme. Check out 4 simple food environment "home improvements" from Thinfluence that you can make today:
1. Ditch the sugary soda: Sure, you may hear this all the time and think it's simple, but for some households ditching the sweet stuff is easier said than done. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, nearly half of Americans drink soda daily, despite knowing that it's anything but beneficial for their health. There are loads of low or zero-calorie drink alternatives (check out these belly flattening drinks) that'll make you forget why you loved soda so much in the first place.
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2. Banish bad foods to the back: Instead of making the extreme move to completely clear out all indulgences from your pantry or refrigerator, simply move the more "dangerous" snacks to a less convenient area. According to Thinfluence, "knowing that the less-healthy snacks are still available may help make the switch seem less restrictive, but you will also know that a healthy option is always close at hand."
3. Out with the white foods, in with the brown: And we're not just talking rice, either. Whole grain pastas, wheat breads, and brown rice are more filling and nutritious than their white counterparts, and also provide more nutrients with your meals.
4. Capitalize on your free time to set yourself up to succeed: Plan in advance. Put together Tupperwares of veggies, fruits, and protein snacks that you can simply pick up and take in the morning (instead of grabbing a worse choice later on). Taking the time to sort things out helps minimize excuses for not choosing wisely when it comes to nutrition.