When your kitchen sink and counter are stacked with dirty dishes, you are more likely to indulge in unhealthy snacks, according to a new study.
The study found that cluttered kitchens cause stress and lead women to consume more calories.
“Being in a chaotic environment and feeling out of control is bad for diets. It seems to lead people to think, ‘Everything else is out of control, so why shouldn’t I be?’” says lead author Lenny Vartanian, a psychology professor.
The study was conducted at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. It studied women who were asked to wait for another person in a messy kitchen. The kitchen was filled with newspapers on the table, dishes in the sink, and a ringing phone. The women waiting in the messy kitchen ate twice as many cookies compared to women waiting in the same kitchen when it was organized and quiet.
Both kitchens also had bowls of cookies, crackers, and carrots. The participants in the noisy, messy kitchen ate 53 more calories from cookies in 10 minutes — twice as many cookies as women in the neat, quiet kitchen.
As well the women were asked to write about a time in their lives when their lives felt out of control. Other participantts were asked to write about a time when their lives were in control. The group that wrote about feeling in control ate fewer calories.
“Although meditation, as a way of feeling in control, might be one way to resist kitchen snacking for some, it’s probably easier just to keep our kitchens picked up and cleaned up,” said co-author Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.