Blue Zones® Checklists

Our checklists help you optimize your life for maximum health and happiness.

Background

Did you know you could consume 100 fewer calories every day without even thinking about it? According to Dr. Brian Wansink and other scientists at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, the setup of your kitchen greatly impacts what and how much you eat. In his book, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, Wansink showed that simply making small changes in your kitchen can lead you and your family to “mindlessly” or effortlessly eat less food and better food.

Objective

This questionnaire will help you determine the impact your current kitchen has on both the quality and quantity of your own food consumption. The answer section will help you see where you can make small, simple changes to facilitate healthy and conscious eating.

Directions

  1. Choose the answer that matches your current behavior to see how supportive your home is of physical activity.
  2. The checklist will automatically add up your points so you can see your score at the bottom of the page.
  3. Enter your email address to receive a copy of your Blue Zones® Kitchen Checklist results or print a copy directly from the page.
  4. Start making changes to your kitchen based on your answers and the recommendations given. These changes don’t have to be made all at once. Pick the easier ones to start with and continue completing at least one item each week.
  5. Complete this tool again in two months to see how many points you’ve gained and how your rankings have improved!
  • Enter in your email address to receive a copy of your Blue Zones® Kitchen Checklist results.
    How to do it: When you buy snacks like pretzels, portion them into small bags to avoid overeating.

    Why do it: Re-bagging your snacks will help you eat reasonably sized portions. Additionally, you actually burn more calories by preparing fresh meals and snacks.
    How to do it: Get in the habit of keeping your healthy foods on the front of the top shelf of your refrigerator.

    Why do it: Placing the healthy options at eye level will encourage you to snack mindfully.
    How to do it: Replace your oversized plates with smaller 10” plates.

    Why do it: Eating on 10” plates promotes eating in smaller proportions. Over the last 20 years, the average U.S. dinner plate has grown to over 12 inches. During the same timeframe we are eating 22 percent more calories. The easiest, mindless way to eat less is to eat off smaller plates.
    How to do it: Replace your big slurp drinking glasses with narrow, cylinder shaped glasses.

    Why do it: We visually measure our drinks by height, not width, of the glass. It’s far better to drink out of narrow glasses because we THINK we are drinking more than we are. Switching from the “Big Slurp” size glasses to more normal sizes will help you consume less.
    How to do it: Put unhealthy snacks and food out of eyes’ reach on bottom shelves or behind cabinet doors. Label it “Junk Food.”

    Why do it: Most junk food is consumed because you see it and it looks good. If you’re going to have junk food in your house, hiding it from your line of vision will dramatically decrease consumption.
    How to do it: Plate your entire meal before sitting down at the table. Avoid eating family style by leaving the serving dishes on the counter.

    Why do it: Leave the serving dishes on the counter—not on the table—so you won’t be tempted to take more food than you’re hungry for. Research has shown that when people pre-plate their food, they consume about 14 percent less than when they take multiple, smaller servings as seen in family style dining.
    How to do it: Remove the TV from your eating environment.

    Why do it: When other things are going on in your eating environment, you are more likely to pay attention to them rather than the food you are consuming. Avoid multi-tasking while you eat by turning off the TV and radio. Practice this habit while you’re at work, too—try not to work while eating. Take some time away from your desk to eat lunch.
    How to do it: Take a fruit bowl you already have and put it on your countertop in a well-lit, prominent place.

    Why do it: Placing the healthy options in convenient, eye-level locations will encourage you to snack mindfully. Keeping the fruit bowl filled will also encourage you to buy a variety of fresh produce items.
    How do I do it: Get rid of your electric can opener and use a hand operated one instead. Also get a potato masher and garlic press, rather than an electric mixer.

    Why do it: Manual kitchen tasks encourage hand and arm strengthening. Try squeezing fruit juice, mashing potatoes or beans, and opening cans manually.
    How to do it: Create a list with the best longevity foods (nuts, whole grain bread, beans, fruit & vegetables) and the worst junk food (salty snacks, sweetened sugary drinks, processed meats, packaged sweets) and display it on your refrigerator.

    Why do it: This list will help remind you to be conscious of what you’re eating.
  • 0
    out of 40 points
  • 35+ points:

    Blue Zones Kitchen. You have set up your eating environment in a way that allows you to eat healthy meals and snacks. Can you get yourself all the way to scoring 40/40 points?

    25 to 34:

    Mindful Eater. You are well on your way to creating an ideal eating environment. What other changes are you going to make to have a Blue Zones Kitchen?

    15 to 24:

    On Your Way. When you begin to pair many of these behaviors together, you’ll start seeing a healthier environment. Which item is first on your list of changes? Get started on that right now.

    Below 15:

    Just Getting Started. Everyone has to start somewhere. Begin the process by prioritizing the changes you want to make and start on them tomorrow.

  • Submit your Blue Zones Kitchen Checklist results to have them emailed to you or print a copy directly from the page. Start making changes to your kitchen based on your answers and the recommendations given. These changes don’t have to be made all at once. Pick the easier ones to start with and continue completing at least one item each week.

References

Wansink, Brian and Koert van Ittersum (2007), “Portion Size Me: Downsizing Our Consumption Norms,” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 107:7 (July), 1103-1106.

Chandon, Pierre and Brian Wansink (2002), “When Are Stockpiled Products Consumed Faster? A Convenience–Salience Framework of Postpurchase Consumption Incidence and Quantity,” Journal of Marketing Research, 39 (3), 321-35.

Wansink, Brian (2010), “From Mindless Eating to Mindlessly Eating Better,” Physiology & Behavior, 100, 454-463, and “The Perils of Plate Size: Waist, Waste, and Wallet” (2011), Brian Wansink and Koert van Ittersum, under review at Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Wansink, Brian and Koert van Ittersum (2003), “Bottoms Up! The Influence of Elongation and Pouring on Consumption Volume, Journal of Consumer Research, 30:3 (December), 455-463.

Wansink, Brian, Koert van Ittersum, and James E. Painter (2006), “Ice Cream Illusions: Bowl Size, Spoon Size, and Serving Size,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 145:5 (September), 240-243.

Painter, James E., Brian Wansink, and Julie B. Hieggelke (2002), “How Visibility and Convenience Influence Candy Consumption,” Appetite, 38:3 (June), 237-238.

Wansink, Brian and Collin R. Payne (2011), “Serve it Here; Eat it There: Serving Off the Stove Results in Less Food Intake than Serving Off the Table,” FASEB Journal, 2:878.7, forthcoming.

Wansink, Brian (2006). “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think,” Bantam-Dell: New York.

Wansink, Brian, James E. Painter and Yeon-Kyung Lee (2006), “The Office Candy Dish: Proximity’s Influence on Estimated and Actual Candy Consumption,” International Journal of Obesity, 30:5 (May), 871-5.