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| December 17, 2012

Did you know that your weight gain might be less about your willpower and more about how you've decorated your home?

Factors like the colors of your walls, how you store your food, or whether your bedroom is comfortable enough can all contribute to your eating habits and stress levels.

READ: 15 Ways Your Home Can Make You Infertile

Read on to learn about the dozen ways your home could be tricking you into chowing down and gaining weight.

Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn |
You Painted The Dining Room Red

According to the Pantone Color Institute, the color red increases blood pressure, heart rate, and appetite. Yellow increases energy, happiness, and—you guessed it—appetite. If any of the rooms in your house are painted in the warm colors of red, orange, or yellow—especially the kitchen or dining room—you are subliminally urging yourself to eat more.

On the other hand, the color blue has been shown to be an appetite suppressant. Because blue rarely occurs as food in nature (more often indicating rot or mold that can make you ill), humans have no appetite response to it. Paint the kitchen aqua, buy a blue light for your fridge, or serve dinner on blue dishware to help fend off cravings.

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You Don't Have a Pantry

If you are constantly looking at junk food, you will constantly eat junk food. That's because "you are three times more likely to eat the first thing you see than the fifth thing you see," says by Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. To take advantage of this out-of-sight, out-of-mind effect, banish bad foods to upper cabinets and remote pantries.

Instead, shelve healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and nuts at eye level on the counter or in the refrigerator. Leaving sugary or salty snacks out will only encourage you to eat when you notice them.

READ: 10 Ways Your Bathroom is Making You Sick

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Your Kitchen is The Hub of The Home

Try changing the way traffic moves through your kitchen. Another study from Wansink's Cornell lab shows that people who pass through the kitchen during the day tend to eat 15 percent more than people who don't.

If a side or back door into the kitchen is the primary way your family goes in and out of the house, try using the front door more to avoid food temptations.

If you work at the kitchen table or talk on the telephone in the kitchen, you will be even more encouraged to take part in mindless eating, so move those activities elsewhere.

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There Are Too Many Chairs and Couches

Having lots of comfy chairs at a breakfast bar encourages camping out in the kitchen. Likewise, a living room full of recliners will lead to excessive lounging.

A 2005 Mayo Clinic study that followed both lean and mildly obese people found that obese people sat at least 150 minutes more each day. Living rooms should be comfortable, but if you're going to spend a lot of time in there watching TV, consider keeping manual exercise equipment (like hand weights and resistance bands) accessible in a basket, storage ottoman, or decorative chest instead of stashing them in a closet.

If you have a treadmill, consider giving it a home in the living room and squeeze in some exercise in during your favorite shows.

READ: 72 Easy DIY Upgrades for a Healthier Home

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You Never Planted a Garden

Without fresh foods, your diet becomes unhealthy very quickly. The best way to get them is to grow them yourself—you're more likely to want to eat foods you've worked hard to cultivate.

But even if you don't have the skills or patience to put in a vegetable garden, there are still some simple windowsill herbs you could grow to encourage cravings for fresh, healthy food.

The scent of jasmine can help increase energy levels and get you going. Lavender helps you relax and sleep better. (Sleep deprivation is strongly tied to weight gain.) Peppermint aromas are known to suppress appetite; in one study at Wheeling Jesuit University, people who smelled peppermint once every two hours for a week consumed 1,800 fewer calories in a week than when they were given a placebo instead.

Photo: Tom Kelley Archive/Getty Images |
Your Dishes Are Too Big

On average, people eat 92 percent of what they have on the plate in front of them, rather than just stopping when they feel full, according to Wansink.

Use a 10-inch plate instead of a 12-inch plate and you'll serve yourself 22 percent less food. Wansink also proved that subjects eating soup from a bowl with a hidden tube that slowly refilled it ate 73 percent more than those eating from a regular bowl—without feeling as if they had eaten more. So defer to smaller china and take a break before you decide to refill it.