A Clean Kitchen Helps You Stress Less—and Snack Less


We’ve all heard of stress eating—or maybe even done a bit ourselves—but did you know it’s not just your mindset that can affect your snacking habits? Your environment may play an equally powerful role, which is actually great news. According to a recent study, something as simple as keeping your kitchen clean and tidy may actually buffer against out-of-control feelings, and help keep your hands out of the cookie jar.

In the study, researchers had one hundred female students taste and rate a variety of foods such as cookies, carrots and crackers. Then they invited the participants to help themselves to leftovers. However, before participants enjoyed the snack sessions, each was exposed to either a chaotic kitchen filled with noise, papers and pots and pans, or a clean, orderly and calm kitchen. While in their designated environment, participants were asked to write about one of three things: a time they felt overwhelmed, an instance when they felt composed, or a lecture they attended.

You can probably guess who ate the most: The women who had written about a time they felt stressed and then were in the chaotic kitchen ate significantly more cookies than the other participants. Interestingly, the results for all other combinations were the same. For example, in the calm, orderly kitchen, women who wrote about feeling out of control did not eat significantly more cookies than those who were primed to feel in control.

While more studies are needed to confirm these findings, results suggest that feeling in control could protect against the effects of a chaotic environment, while having an orderly environment could buffer against the effects of feeling out of control. What’s more, neither the state of the kitchen nor the participant’s mindset had any influence on how many crackers or carrots were eaten; meaning it’s only our unhealthy cravings that are susceptible to the combined influence of mindset and environment.


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