Is Your Messy Kitchen Making You Fat?
Research shows too much clutter can lead to too many calories
If you want to drop a few pounds, a trip to an organization and storage solutions store may be a good place to start. That’s according to a recent study that found eating in a cluttered kitchen caused women to take in more calories.
Researchers at Cornell University divided 101 women into two groups. One group hung out in a neat kitchen. The other group spent time in a messy one. All the women were offered cookies, carrots and crackers to snack on. Those in the unkempt kitchen munched more cookies (103 calories' worth, on average) than the other women, who nibbled an average of 38 calories' worth. (The two groups ate the same amount of carrots and crackers.)
The scientists theorize one reason the women in the cluttered kitchen ate more calories is that a chaotic environment can make you feel you have little control over anything you do — including what you put in your mouth.
“I’m not surprised,” adds Barbara Reich, a Manhattan-based professional organizer and author of "Secrets of an Organized Mom." “When you get into your kitchen and you’re hungry, you eat things that are ready for you to grab.” All too often in a cluttered kitchen, that’s likely to be foods that are processed and pre-packaged — and higher in fat and calories. Besides, it’s hard to peel a carrot if you can’t find your peeler.
Cleaning up your act
Think your untidy kitchen might have something to do with what and how much you eat? Then you may want to clear the way for healthier habits with these tips from professional organizers.
Make a place for everything in your fridge. Then always put things where they belong. “Group dairy products together and designate specific spots for leftovers, condiments and meats,” Reich advises.
Use the same style of food storage containers for everything. “This will eliminate visual noise and distractions, so you can focus on the choices you’re making,” Reich explains.
Line up pantry items “library style.” “For example, one shelf could have the canned goods, another could have snack foods and another could be where you keep your cereals and breads,” suggests professional organizer Pam Sherman, owner of Chicago Organized Home. “When you can’t find anything in your pantry, you grab whatever is accessible, instead of the best choice. Being able to check food categories at a glance also will help you inventory them more easily so you’re less likely to buy duplicates of what you already have, which can add to clutter."
Clear your countertops. “They often become a dumping ground for papers, keys and other non-kitchen items, so when you want to make home-cooked food or bake with your kids, you can’t,” warns Sherman. Set aside a place outside the kitchen, such an entryway table, for those those items. If you don’t use a gadget or small appliance at least three times a week, store it away.
Deep-six duplicate utensils. Okay, you might really need two spatulas. But three garlic peelers? It’s time to give away any instrument you haven’t used in a year or more.
Follow the “one in, one out” rule for pots, pans and bakeware, says Sherman. “If you buy a new cookie sheet, get rid of the old one. Don’t keep adding to the collection.”
Kick your mug addiction. If you’ve got more than your fair share of coffee cups, it’s time to whittle it down to the mugs you drink out of most often. Mugs you keep around for sentimental reasons (with your college logo, for example) are mementos that belong in a memory box or bookshelf, says Sherman.
Store items near where they’ll be used. Keep glasses on a shelf close to the refrigerator, for instance, and utensils beside the stove. The less running around required to cook a healthy meal, the more likely you are to do it rather than order yet another pizza.
Chop and prepare veggies as soon as you bring them home. “Place them at eye-level in your refrigerator along with other healthy foods,” says Reich. You’ll see them first when you’re hungry, throw them into dishes you’re cooking and always know they’re available for a quick nibble.
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