Kitchen Clutter Can Influence Food Intake

Cluttered Kitchen Counter

Psychology plays a large role in diet, and a cluttered kitchen may directly influence food intake. A recent Cornell University study positively correlated cluttered kitchens and indulgent food intake. Cornell’s Food & Brand Lab, highly respected for its examinations on cognitive mechanisms, emotional mechanisms and food intake, researched the phenomenon between “comfort food” consumption and overeating.

The Emotional Trigger

The study utilized two control groups. Several of the study’s participants were asked to write about situations they, personally, have felt “in control” in their life. They were also given the option to write about a period of lost control. To examine the correlation between chaos and clutter, researchers then established two separate kitchen environments. The first environment was clean, well-arranged and lacking clutter. The second was considerably messier, hosting dirty dishes, trash and a ringing phone.

The study’s 98-percent female population separated into two groups. They were then led into the environments one at a time. Each kitchen contained the same snacks: crackers, cookies and carrots. Participants were directed to eat as much as they like. The results, thereafter, revealed a startling psychology between participants in the two kitchens.

Women situated in the chaotic kitchen appeared to eat twice as many cookies, containing 53 more calories, in a 10-minute time span when compared to the women in the organized, quiet kitchen. Additionally, women who were asked to write about out-of-control lifestyle situations consumed 100 calories more than those who wrote about being in control—who consumed only 38 calories from cookies.

Orderly Environments and Food Psychology

The University's research reflected upon the age-old connection between extreme moods and comfort eating. Individuals feeling sad, angry or otherwise upset may feel a need to celebrate, consuming higher amounts of food. A messy environment, however, is proving to be as impactful.

Cornell University’s study is telling. Seemingly, an orderly, clean environment directly increases desirably, orderly behavior. An eater’s psychology, of course, moderates food intake. All things equal, a cluttered environment might affect your overall diet choice. While healthy foods weren’t impacted, junk food consumption—particularly—changed quite a lot.


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