Could Your Home Be Making You Fat?

| Pregnancy & Parenting

Aside from work, you spend most of your time at home. Your house is most likely the place where you feel most comfortable, safe and content — but does it make you feel healthy too? It should be a safe haven from greasy fast food restaurants on every corner or vending machines full of candy bars on every floor of your office building, but if it's not set up right, you could be falling into the many healthy diet pitfalls that tempt you in the outside world!

woman lying on couch thinking

"You can restructure your home environment to protect yourself from unhealthy food and a sedentary lifestyle,"says Sherry Pagoto, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the division of preventative and behavioral medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. From organizing your kitchen to your thermostat setting, read on to discover 10 ways from Health Magazine that your home may slyly cause you to pack on pounds.

Your cabinets are overflowing: If your cabinets are so stuffed that you need to put food on your counters, fridge, or exposed shelving, you're setting yourself up to trigger a craving. "A bag of potato chips or candy out in the open will put the food on your radar when you walk by. The minute you see that visual cue, you want it," says Pagoto.

The fix: Clean out your pantry on a regular basis. Get rid of expired food and stuff you bought that you don't like and won't eat (but keep around anyway) — even if it's healthy. Or, come up with alternate storage plans, like a cabinet in your basement.

Your apples are in the fridge: On the other hand, if healthy food is hidden, you're less likely to eat it. That's especially true if you keep fruits that don't need to be refrigerated (like apples or pears) or whole veggies tucked away in the crisper drawers. When you're busy, it's faster to rip open a bag of chips than cut cruditès.

The fix: Buy a pretty fruit bowl or basket so you're more inclined to fill it; display in plain sight so you're more likely to grab a piece. Pre-slice veggies and put them in clear containers front-and-center in the fridge for easy snacking.

veggies on kitchen counter

Your thermostat is set too high: The fact that you can go anywhere — your home, the office, a store — and the temperature is set at somewhere-in-the-70s comfortable is a surprising contributor to obesity, say experts. Your body simply doesn't have to work to expend energy to warm itself up, suggests a 2014 study in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism. The result: your metabolism sputters.

The fix: Turn down your thermostat a few degrees. Being cold activates your brown fat, which actually spurs your metabolism and improves glucose sensitivity. If the change is too abrupt, start with one degree and gradually decrease the temperature. You'll quickly adapt to the chillier temp, note researchers.

Your exercise equipment is undercover: "Everyone wants to hide exercise equipment in case of unexpected guests. But how often does that really happen?" says Dr. Pagoto. Or, we hide it in rooms we don't want to go in, like the basement. "When your option is to go on a treadmill covered in spider webs or sit on a big comfy couch in front of the TV, it's not surprising you choose TV," she says.

The fix: Keep your dumbbells next to your couch so you're reminded to use them while you watch TV. Set up equipment like a yoga mat or exercise bike in a space in your home you want to be in — like by a window.

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>> Read more: 30 Home Gym Must-Haves

You're inviting the wrong people over: "Look at who your friends are," says James O. Hill, PhD, director of the Colorado Nutrition Obesity Research Center. "You're going to behave similarly to the people you spend time with." If your friends are more the type to sit around and drink beer and eat chips, then you will be, too.

The fix: Okay, no one's saying to lose your friends—no matter how bad their health habits. "Look for friends who are doing the right thing, and have them over, too," says Dr. Hill. If they're more active and like to eat nutritious foods, you're more likely to adopt their habits. Conversely, their attitude can rub off on your less-than-virtuous pals.

Wondering what else to change in your house? Click here to read the original story from Health Magazine.