A new study reveals a surprising way to help you stick to a diet: clean up your kitchen.
The study asked 101 women to wait for a period of time in either a clean, organized kitchen, or a messy one, with newspapers on the counter, dishes in the sink, and the phone ringing. Both kitchens had bowls of carrots, crackers, and cookies. But the women in the messy kitchen ate 65 more calories on average in just ten minutes than the women in the neat one.
Says Lenny Vartanian PhD, the study’s lead author, “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?’” It would be interesting to explore whether this holds true for other situations where self-control is required. Do we spend more in chaotic stores? Do we get more drunk in messy bars? I’d guess that there’s probably a broader pattern here.
What’s great about this study is that it suggests we can take pressure off of our already-strained willpower by making simple changes to our environment. One of the study’s coauthors, Brian Wansink, Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, underscores this point: “Although meditation, as a way of feeling in control, might be one way to resist kitchen snacking for some, it’s probably easier just to keep our kitchens picked up and cleaned up.”
To give you a little inspiration for a less stressful place to cook and eat, here are 3 tips for bringing joy and serenity to your own kitchen.
1. Use a limited set of bright colors: The images above and below use simple palettes with pops of bright colors to create a unified feel. Notice, above, how the copper and wood are similar in tone? And below, how the bowl, lamp, and plant pot are matched to the tile, with pretty much everything else in white? A limited color palette helps focus the eye and reduce distractions.
2. Create harmony with containers: The image above is the studio-kitchen of Cannelle et Vanille chef and food stylist Aran Goyoaga, and is one of my all-time favorite kitchens. The clear glass containers on the left and dishes arrange by color make the place feel so zen yet joyful. Below is a great example of how food containers can be grouped by color to create a visual that looks neat and bright, as opposed to like a pantry that burst open. By choosing to display containers all in yellows and oranges, the display feels like a cohesive unit.
3. Leave plenty of white space: If you like the abundant feel of a kitchen with lots of cookbooks, tools, and knickknacks on display, try leaving some generous white space. In the image above, the cabinets create fields of white that contain the creative clutter and make it feel manageable. Though the color and pattern is more dispersed in the image below, the expanse of white wall has a similar effect.
Did I miss anything? Do you have any tricks for making your kitchen the happiest place in the house?