It’s a no-brainer that the choices in your fridge, pantry and on your kitchen counter dictate the quality of your meals and snacks; if the choices are nourishing foods, you’ll eat nourishing foods. If they’re high-fat, high-calorie, low nutrition foods. . .well, you get the idea.

“Out of sight, out of mind” –The idea that something is easily forgotten or dismissed as unimportant if it is not in our direct view.

Imagine if your kitchen mimicked those perfectly-staged Instagram, Facebook and “glamour cookbook” photos; artfully arranged vintage bowls filled with unblemished fruits and veggies strategically placed along gleaming countertops, an exquisite pitcher of thirst quenching lemon-water at the ready.

You only need saunter into that kitchen, and faster than you can say “farmer’s market”, you’d be hankering for a salad and a cool glass of water with floaty lemons.

Now survey your kitchen.

Not a fruit or veggie in sight? No fancy pitcher of lemon-water, nor even a stray, shriveled lemon lying about?


You’ve read enough of the stats, and preferably my previous blog posts to know that nutrition and diet have an enormous impact on your energy, overall health, and potentially, risk of recurrence.

So you set goals. You plan ahead and grocery shop and chop and stir and cook. You really want to eat better!

For example, it seems reasonable and achievable to eat at least 2-3 cups of fruit and veggies per day, so you aim for that. (1)

But guess what? If those fruits and veggies you buy are stored out of sight (out of mind), the likelihood of you hitting your goal becomes woefully low. And THAT feels discouraging. 


If you’ve ever worked in the vicinity of an office candy jar, you know the phenomenon I’m talking about.

Candy jar stored in desk drawer – no thoughts of eating candy.

Candy jar sits on top of desk – ALL thoughts of eating candy. You snag a piece every time you walk past, simply because it’s RIGHT THERE and sort of calling to you.

Well, the same principle applies to apples. Seriously.

Pass a bowlful of shiny apple orbs often enough and you’ll find yourself fancying one, although you’d be hard-pressed to eat nearly as many apples as pieces of candy – the fullness factor and all of that chewing sort of precludes it.


There are a number of social, psychological, physiological and cultural factors that help us determine the foods we choose to eat: (2)

  • Hunger, appetite, taste preference
  • Cost, income, availability
  • Access, cooking skills, time
  • Culture, family, peers, meal patterns
  • Mood, stress level, guilt
  • Attitudes, belief, knowledge

I’m adding environment.

While there’s limited scientific data on the influence of the home environment on healthy eating among adults, one of the first studies to look at this connection found common conditions that may support eating healthier at home; food accessibility is one.

The particular study I’m referencing found that having more fruits and vegetables in the home was associated with eating more fruits and vegetables, and the availability of high-fat snacks was associated with fat intake.

Interestingly, while study participants reported that both healthy and unhealthy foods were easily accessible in their homes, accessibility wasn’t associated with eating behavior. (3)

Which doesn’t really surprise me.

How many times have you had both junk food and salad fixin’s in your fridge, and junk food won out as dinner?

Making healthy foods AVAILABLE doesn’t guarantee they’ll be eaten, but their mere presence can be associated with healthier eating patterns.

While this study has plenty of limitations and a strong focus on obesity, it serves as a starting point in an area of research with limited information on this topic – so let’s go with it until there’s more available.


How does this apply to YOU?

Our habits determine our health, and I’m all about helping you develop sustainable, health-supportive habits in order to thrive, wherever you are in the breast cancer continuum.

It’s a no-brainer that the choices in your fridge, pantry and on your kitchen counter dictate the quality of your meals and snacks; if the choices are nourishing foods, you’ll eat nourishing foods. If they’re high-fat, high-calorie, low nutrition foods. . .well, you get the idea.

The habit of bringing home more healthy and less junky options improves the odds of fueling yourself versus simply filling yourself with whatever’s available.

By the way, I’m not suggesting you eliminate all treats; that would be rather draconian and not my style.

I am suggesting we figure out together what stuffing your kitchen with (mostly) health-supportive foods looks like for YOU.

Let’s say a plate of chocolate chip cookies sits on your kitchen counter daily, which would you (honestly) do?

  1. Pass by multiple times per day, nibbling a cookie only occasionally, if at all.
  2. Snag a cookie every time, regardless of hunger level or whether you’ve eaten anything substantial all day.

Your response isn’t a measure of your virtue or willpower, nor is there a right or wrong answer – it’s simply a litmus test measuring the impact of your home environment on your eating habits.


Nothing more, nothing less.

Some people need a bit more help in this area, in being honest with themselves, and in their efforts to set themselves up to execute this idea consistently.

If that’s YOU, you’re in the right place. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Grocery shop weekly from a list of your favorite fresh and frozen produce options; you know, the stuff you’ll actually eat.
  • Keep a bowl on your counter filled with fresh fruit. Duh.
  • Make “out of sight, out of mind” work FOR rather than AGAINST you; store crackers, chips, granola bars and other “grazing-type” foods behind closed doors. These foods tend not to satisfy your hunger, but do raise insulin, which can keep you coming back for more (and more, and more).
  • Avoid bringing home snacks you can’t stop eating, like ice cream or candy. This sounds like another “duh” suggestion, but we tend to “trick” ourselves at the grocery, saying “I’m just getting these for the kids/husband/overnight guests.” That backfires! Instead, enjoy individual servings when you’re out; have ice cream for dessert at a restaurant, grab a single-serving bag of your favorite candy at the market.
  • Portion bakery goods into individual servings and store them in the freezer. It’s easier to thaw and eat one muffin, cookie or slice of coffee cake versus navigate an entire recipe’s worth.
  • Buy single-serving packs of high calorie/fat foods like nuts and dried fruit. While they’re packed with nutrition, it can be challenging to stop eating before you’ve had too much.
  • Stock pre-made, pre-chopped, ready-to-go ingredients you can quickly assemble into meals and snacks; microwavable rice and quinoa, skillet-ready veggies, pre-marinated fish and chicken, fresh pasta, pre-assembled meal kits. A balanced “meal” versus grazing your way through the pantry helps you feel more satiated.
  • How tidy is your kitchen? A countertop buried under papers, bills and your kid’s school project doesn’t invite you to come in and cook. Nope, it screams “CALL FOR TAKEOUT!”

Please do me a favor? SHARE THIS post with other women in the breast cancer community!

And let me know your tricks for making your kitchen counters help you eat better, by sharing in the comments below.

Thanks so much! #grateful

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  1. How many vegetables should I be eating? What about my kids?
  2. The determinants of food choice
  3. The Influence of Home Food Environments on Eating Behaviors of Overweight and Obese Women