Is Your Home A Toxic Environment?

Your home sweet home—the place where you hang your hat and rest your weary bones after a hard day of work is meant to fuel your health and happiness. However, unbeknownst to many, home can actually influence bad habits and encourage poor health if it encourages a sedentary lifestyle, poor food choices, and other unhealthy behaviors.

Here are nine ways to make sure your home isn’t a breeding ground for poor health:

1. Lower the Temperature

Did you know that setting your thermostat too high actually attributes to weight gain?  So claims a study published in the Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism journal, which states if your heating remains in the comfortable 70s (or 21-degrees Celsius zone) its occupants are more likely to be obese because the body isn’t activating brow fat, which spurs metabolism and disburses the calories necessary to warm itself up. Now that’s reason to keep it cool and throw on a sweater if you need to.

2. Limit the Number of Screens

If monitors, televisions, and computer screens—in your living room, dinning room, kitchen, basement, and bedroom—constantly surround you, a PLOS One (from the Public Library of Science) study warns that you’re exacerbating your risk of obesity by distracting yourself from activity with sedentary habits. Do yourself a favor and limit television and computer time each evening, AND take the TV out of the bedroom.

3. Nix Family-Style Meals

It’s nice to get together for a weekly family style meal where the bowls and platters are passed around the table. However, keeping overflowing bowls and casseroles dishes at reach encourages overeating, even if you’re not really hungry. Scientists at Cornell University suggest preparing a plate food straight from of pots and pans and then storing the remaining food away so your body can naturally feel full before you return for seconds.

4. Seek Like-Minded Friends

Doctors at the Colorado Nutrition Obesity Research Center recommend we take a critical look at our social group—because we tend to adopt similar habits. That means if the majority of your friends lead sedentary lifestyles full of fast food eating, beer drinking, and movie watching; chances are you will follow the pack. Instead of ditching the whole lot, make it a point to hang around friends who lead active, nutritious lives more regularly.

5. Don’t Chillax After Work

If your routine is to come home from work, put on the pajamas, and eat dinner on the couch in front of the television set—you’re setting yourself up for a sedentary lifestyle and the inevitable weight gain that comes along with that lifestyle. Instead, get in the habit of keeping your active clothes on so you can take a brisk walk after dinner.

6. Keep Food Out of Sight

There really is a seeing is craving mentality to food, despite if you’re actually hungry or not. According to Preventative and Behavioral Medicine scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, if your cupboards and counter tops are overflowing with food, it will make it tough to stop mindless snacking and encourage overeating. Even homes with exposed shelving set you up to not withstand visual cues that tell you to eat. If you like to stock up, keep food behind closed cupboards or store in a basement pantry, out of sight, out of mind.

7. Display Healthy Snacks

While researchers suggest keeping junk food behind closed doors—displaying healthy fruits and veggies will encourage you to reach for those when you’re craving snacks.  That means keeping fruits (i.e., apples, oranges, pears, bananas) in a grab-ready bowl in plain sight and not in the refrigerator where it’s often forgotten.

8. Look at the Size of Those Plates!

Do your plates resemble serving platters? Will your bowls hold an entire ½ liter of ice cream? A Cornell study recommends smaller serving dishes to keep servings under check after a study found that larger dishes and bowls encouraged a 44-percent increase in calories, per meal! Regular sized bowls should be no more than 20-ounces while plates should be under 10-inches in diameter.

9. Let the Sunshine In…

Is your bedroom dim in the morning? Do you spend the day with the blinds drawn? Research published in the International Journal of Endocrinology suggests lack of natural light spurs junk food cravings and disrupts sleep patterns, due to low leptin (the fullness triggering hormone) and high ghrelin (the hunger spurring hormone) levels. Be sure to bathe in natural sunlight as much as you can throughout the day.


Emily Lockhart

Emily Lockhart is a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer. She believes that being healthy is a lifestyle choice, not a punishment or temporary fix to attain a desired fitness or body image goal. Anna helps her clients take responsibility for their own health and wellness through her classes and articles on ActiveBeat.