How does an environment affect people’s behaviour? Is there more that designers can do besides ergonomic layouts, well planned storage and provision of cheerful décor? Can the way a space is created encourage healthy eating habits and ways of being?
The answer is yes, in more ways than you might think. It’s possible to design a kitchen that not only supports but encourages healthy eating, in a subtle but effective manner. At the same time, this approach also creates a healthy kitchen that doubles as a wonderful place to spend time.
Here are a few specific ideas to consider, much of it inspired by Michael Pollen’s recent book, In Defence of Food:
- The role of the table as the centre of healthy food habits is far more important than it might appear at first glance. Conversation plays a major role in slowing down eating, adding to the “food experience per bite”. Eating food slowly is effective at reducing over-consumption. According to various studies, it takes the brain 20 minutes to catch up with the stomach. Delaying the intake of food with conversation and pauses, such as serving a new course, allows the body the has time to give you a signal of fullness. In addition, it helps us to go for quality foods, rather than quantity. In turn, this creates greater interest in the food itself and greater enthusiasm for taking the time and trouble to prepare it.
- A well-positioned, handsome table with an atmosphere of enjoyable sociability, set in sunlight or candlelight, can also make a big difference. With a belief that getting together is worth it – much better than eating alone with nothing but the TV for company – then you can give round one to the ‘designed’ environment. It’s no accident that the breakfast nook is a common request from our clients. It’s a protected and cosy spot for consuming civilised meals.
- A full meal, eaten regularly, reduces snacking. The formality of being at a table, consideration for others and sociability of manners, turns the meal into a shared experience. The French serve modest portions, controlling plating size, which in turn sends the right visual cues. This is because most people have a ‘unit bias,’ according to psychologist Paul Rozin. He explains that they take their cues from what is on the plate, not what they necessarily want to eat.
Stay tuned for installments 2 and 3 for more tips on “Cooking & Furniture” and more!