Freezing leftovers can prevent the urge for seconds.
Near twice a week, I have written a post to share a tip or trick that I have found to be helpful as journeyed down the path to improved health and weight. In the last two years, I found the key to success was meal planning or prepping. In fact, I would say that prepping is critical to success and it is the only reason I have achieved any my weight goals. It has been so effective at maintaining a healthy lifestyle and weight that I feel better than I have since my 20s. In my opinion, it was the single most important thing that made any semblance of progress toward a stable weight loss maintenance.
I have been a meal prepper for over on year now. I started to avoid weight regain and for the most part, I have been successful if you exclude a little holiday bump followed by a holiday loss, but that is for another post. Once your meal prep is over, many of us have an urge to finish an extra serving or two. You have done the right thing and served yourself a reasonable portion, but now, you feel that urge to nibble a little on the prepped portions or that little bit that did not quite make up a portion. A perfect way to prep meals is to save and refrigerate or freeze leftovers. I recommend that you immediately package up the portions and immediately hide the remainder in the fridge or freezer for a later date. When the food is out of sight, it is out of mind. We have not changed much since our toddler years. If we hide something, we often forget about. Think about that box of candy you hid last year and find it months later all dry and nasty. You may or may not have intended to hide it, but the effect is all the same. Your freezer is a great place to store extra servings for another day. It is not only out of sight and out of mind, but it also takes extra effort to thaw it before you eat it.
So is there any research to back this up? Sure there is. The study (Do distant foods decrease intake? The effect of food accessibility on consumption) looked at snacking and distance to the bowl and found that putting it further away decrease snacking. That answer the question of convenience and only makes sense because if food is more convenient, we will eat it more. Another great study (How Visibility and Convenience Influence Candy Consumption) looked at both visibility and convenience in a study performed in an office setting with 16 employees. Researchers put Hershey’s kisses in three different situations: one top of a desk near the workers, in the open but 2 meters away, and in a desk drawer. Although convenience appears to be more significant of a factor, the study concluded that hiding them also resulted in a 2.9 times less candy being eaten.
The bottom line: Making snacks or food less accessible by putting them further away or hiding them is a potentially effective strategy to decrease snack intake. It is better to hide them and chance that they dry and spoil before you find them again than to pad your waistline. An even better tactic is to don’t buy them at all.