by Katrina Avila

Believe it or not, your refrigerator can help you lose weight and get healthy. It sounds a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it? How can something that harbors some of the most detrimental foods to your waistline help you make it smaller? Well, it’s not exactly your refrigerator that can help you lose weight—it’s more of how you tame the beast that does the trick. Below are seven different ways that you can make your fridge work for you instead of against you.

1. Make fruits as accessible as a bag of chips: Wash, chop, and store fruits such as grapes, melon, kiwi, pineapple, and apples in reusable containers in the fridge so they’re easy to grab. Make sure they’re right up front so they’re the first thing you see when you open the refrigerator door. Also, make to-go baggies of fruit so you can bring it to class or the library for a healthy snack when the munchies strike.

2. Eat a salad with lunch and dinner: Having a salad before dinner is a great way to fill you up so you eat less of the main course. Before you head to the entre station or the grill in The View, make a pit stop at the salad bar. Prepare a small spinach salad with some cucumbers, peppers, oil, and vinegar (or fresh squeezed lemon when they have it). All of the veggies are mostly water, so they’ll fill you up, making you less likely to eat a bigger main course.

3. Have measuring cups and spoons on the counter: Measuring your food will keepportions in check since overestimating serving sizes is a huge reason people don’t lose weight. Seeing measuring spoons and cups on your kitchen counter will be a visual reminder not to forget to use them—and make sure you’re not overeating. Do not be discouraged at how small the proper portions appear to be. It will take some getting used to, but that seemingly measly cup of cereal in the morning will fill you up after your body adjusts to eating that portion size.

4. Pre-make snack packs: You know what happens when you eat chips or crackers out of the box — you practically end up demolishing the entire package! Take your favorite healthy snacks such as mixed nuts, popcorn, cheese, and fresh fruit, grab some Ziploc snack bags, and make some 100-calorie or 150-calorie snack packs you can keep in your cupboard or fridge.

5. Simply look at the nutrition label and figure out how big of a portion you can have while staying under a certain calorie limit. Pick one out in the morning, and keep it in your backpack or tote bag for when those pesky munchies strike yet again.

6. Ditch the unhealthy foods: Your roommate might be a fan of an occasional can of soda, bowl of cookie dough ice cream, or a Hershey’s Kiss (or a handful), but if those foods are within your reach, you’re bound to crave them. Throw out or give away the junk because if it’s not in your pantry, you can’t be tempted to eat it.

7. Use smaller-sized plates: When we prepare a plate of food, we feel the need to fill it up completely. If you start out with a smaller-sized salad plate, there’s only so much you can pile on, so you’ll end up consuming fewer calories. Also, try switching the fork to your non-dominant hand. It will force you to eat slower and you will give your body time to recognize that it’s full.

So now that you have learned how to make your fridge work for you, its contents will no longer attack your waistline. Go to the store and stock up on lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats (for those days when you actually have time to cook), and healthy grains, and your refrigerator will have you getting healthy in no time!