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A Surprising Reason Why You May Be Overeating

A Surprising Reason Why You May Be Overeating


Portion control is often a huge problem for people and one of the big reasons many struggle to lose weight. Not only that, the spontaneous snacking between meals has the potential to drastically increase the amount of calories you’ve consumed throughout the day.

A recent study by Cornell University may have found the answer as to why some people tend to overeat or snack on whatever food they see over others.

After photographing over 200 kitchens of homes in New York, researchers found the state of the kitchen has a strong correlation with weight. Women who had breakfast cereals and soft drink out on show were more likely to weigh more than those with a fresh fruit bowl out in its place.

And we’re not talking just one or two kilos heavier.

Women with boxes of cereal on display were on average 9kg heavier and those with soft drinks on their kitchen bench weighed up to 12kgs more than those with relatively clear benchtops.

This is not really all that surprising considering I see many of my clients who adhere to the ‘eat what I see’ diet. Having a jar of delicious cookies on the bench can be pretty tempting for us all! But it’s not just about what foods you have on display that can be impacting on how much you weigh.

How messy your kitchen may be to blame for your tendency to over indulge on food.

Lenny Vartanian, PhD, and author of the study says “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?’”

The study required one half of the 98 female participants to wait in a tidy, quiet kitchen until someone came to meet them. The other half of the women were asked to wait in a loud, chaotic kitchen with its sink full of dishes and newspapers strewn across the bench tops.

Both of the kitchens had bowls of carrots, crackers and cookies on display.

In just 10 minutes, the first group of women in the messy kitchen had consumed more than twice as many cookies than those in the neat kitchen, totalling an extra 53 calories. Funnily enough, the consumption of carrots and crackers remained the same regardless of which kitchen the women were in.

When you’re stressed out and feeling a little flustered, the desire to overindulge seemed to worsen with the women of the cluttered kitchen eating 100 more calories than those who had a relaxed mindset.

It is clear from this experiment that living in a chaotic environment has an impact on our food choices. We’re more likely to consume unhealthy foods and when coupled with the feeling of being out-of-control, our food choices continue to decline.

Lowering your stress levels is always a good thing and I’m a big fan of incorporating relaxation techniques like mindfulness and meditation into our lives. But for some, cleaning up your home environment might be enough to make a huge impact.

Switching the foods you have on display with healthier alternatives will also reduce your temptation to reach for a calorie laden snack. Swap your cookie jar for raw nuts, a fruit bowl or natural popcorn. Ditch the soft drink and replace it with water flavoured with citrus, berries, or mint for a tasty twist.

So before you jump on a fad diet, maybe start with some spring cleaning and get your kitchen organised first. Then see if you actually need to overhaul your diet, or just need to become a little tidier!