It’s the start of a new year and many of us are trying to eat healthier and make better food choices. We know that clutter causes stress, anxiety and a sense of feeling overwhelmed. Not many realize that a cluttered environment can also keep us from being successful in making good food choices. What if our home environment, specifically our kitchens are sabotaging our dieting efforts?
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Tired and hungry after a long day, you may be confronted with all the clutter and to-do’s in your kitchen. In that moment, your stress level may go up, but it is unlikely you will want to declutter! Your brain will seek something pleasurable instead, and you might want to reach for the bag of chips on the counter. Research shows that if we declutter the kitchen counters and pantry cupboards we may eat fewer snacks. Brian Wansink, PhD., Cornell Food Psychologist, and author of the book Slim by Design states that according to research, people who live in cluttered environments eat 44% more snacks than people who live in clean environments.
Tackling clutter can give you a sense of control over your environment and may also help you feel less stress. When we feel less stressed, we are less likely to stress eat and we may have more energy to cut up veggies or cook a healthy dinner at home. It is much easier to control our environment than it is to control our cravings. Keep snacks off the counter, hide junk food out of sight, or better yet – reduce it. In a tired, stressed or hungry moment, you will more likely eat something healthy if it is the only thing you see.
According to a Nutrition Action article, we can extend this strategy to dinner time. When serving dinner, leave everything but the salad on the stove. People tend to eat what is right in front of them, so they are less likely to have seconds, or another dinner roll, if they have to leave the table to go get it. They may just reach for more salad instead, thus eating fewer calories.
When we open up our pantry and survey eight boxes of cereal, it becomes harder to choose the healthy cereal. You want to be able to open the pantry and see only a few options, to keep decision making easier. According to Brian Wansink, the average person can make about 200 food related decisions each day. With an uncluttered kitchen and pantry, we may have fewer decisions to make about what to eat and we are more likely to have those decisions be in line with our diet goals.
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