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Defeat Common Healthy Eating Obstacles with 3 Simple Tips

By: Karen McPartland, RD

Obstacles to healthy eating are all around us.  Some obstacles are pretty obvious like the tempting food advertisements on TV that instantly make you crave the food being advertised.  But, there are other healthy eating obstacles that may go unnoticed like the large plates you serve dinner on, the friendly secretary’s candy bowl or the way you store healthy foods in your pantry and refrigerator. 

With a few simple tips, you can reduce some of the healthy eating obstacles in your life that you might not have even known were there!

  1. Use smaller plates!  The average dinner plate diameter increased 36% between 1965 and 2005 (Source: Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink.) and studies tend to show that the larger the plate, the more food we put on it and therefore, the more we end up eating.  Take a look in your cabinets and start using plates that are slightly smaller than the ones you currently use to eliminate the large plate = large portions eating obstacle.  You can also consider purchasing some stylish portion-control plates like Slimware plates ( or Healthy Plates ( to further your portion control efforts.
  1. Get certain foods out of sight and put certain foods into sight.  How many times have you opened your pantry to look for a snack and, immediately, your mouth begins to crave the salt and crunch of potato chips?  Could it be that you are craving the food that you see first, which is a bag of chips?  It’s very possible since there seems to be a strong association between our eyes and our stomach.  Simply changing the way that you organize your pantry, cabinets and refrigerator may help to enhance your desire to eat healthier foods.  Here are some reorganizing tips to consider: 
    • Put a bowl of fruit (those that can be kept at room temperature) on the kitchen counter or kitchen table.
    • Put fruits and veggies that require refrigeration into glass bowls and put them on refrigerator shelves instead of putting them out of sight in the refrigerator drawers.
    • Move your healthier snacks (nuts, whole grain crackers, popcorn kernels, dried fruit, etc.) to the front of your panty shelves and put the chips and less healthy snacks in the back. 
    • Don’t store cookies or cakes on the kitchen counter.  Cover them and put them in the pantry or in the refrigerator drawers.
  1. Make healthy foods convenient and less healthy foods inconvenient.  If the need for convenience causes us to make less healthy food choices, we just need to make healthy foods more convenient than other foods.  Here are some ways to do this:
    • Keep low sodium canned beans in your pantry, quickly rinse them in a strainer and add them to any meal for protein, fiber and micronutrients.
    • Keep a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter so you can easily grab a piece as you head out the door.
    • Avoid keeping chips, cookies, ice cream, etc. in the house.
    • Keep a bowl of fruit on your desk at work.
    • Buy single-serve packs of raw nuts and keep a few in your purse or car.
    • Stock your pantry with protein & omega-3 rich canned fish (ex. tuna, salmon, etc.) to add to salads and pasta dishes.
    • Check out the dairy section at the convenience store.  You can usually find low-fat yogurt, part-skim string cheese sticks and containers of low-fat milk to snack…all of which make great snacks!
    • Pack homemade sandwiches in a cooler when traveling to avoid having to stop at fast-food laden rest stops.  You’ll save time, money & calories!


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