Researchers are arguing that what we eat may be heavily influenced by our surroundings and our mindset, according to a NPR report. A recent study suggests that a cluttered kitchen might influence us to eat more calories from less healthy food.
For the study, Cornell researchers set up a messy kitchen and a clean kitchen, and then invited 100 women to spend time alone in one kitchen or the other. While there, each study participant was told to write about a time in her life that she either felt in control or out of control. Researchers left cookies, crackers, or carrots in the kitchens, and invited study participants to eat as much as they liked.
The researchers found that study participants who wrote about feeling out of control in the messy kitchen ate, on average, twice as many calories from cookies than those who wrote about the same thing in the neat kitchen. Also, those who wrote about being in control consumed fewer calories from cookies in the messy kitchen than those who wrote about being out of control. This builds on previous research which showed similar results in a simulated office environment.
Often, our space can be a reflection of our mindset: if our surroundings are messy, we may be feeling stressed or overwhelmed; if clean, we might feel more in control. There are many reasons that we eat – a bad day at the office, boredom, grandmothers who insist we take seconds – but if we can create a less cluttered kitchen (or desk) environment, it might save us some unnecessary calories.
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