You visit grandma’s, and on the kitchen table is the tumble of individually wrapped sweets. You sit for a cuppa and a chat, and before long, several sweetie wrappers appear before you, their contents having somehow made their way into your mouth with you barely noticing.
According to a study out of Cornell University in the U.S., simply seeing that shiny chocolate packet or can of sweet stuff is enough to make you reach for it, even if you don’t really want – or ‘need’ – it.
Kitchen counter correlates obesity
Assessing what was kept on the counter tops of 210 kitchens in Syracuse, New York, researchers found women whose houses had fresh fruit in line of sight weighed less than those who kept their cereal boxes and soft drink out.1
So much so, those with soft drink or diet soft drink out in the open weighed 12kg and 11.1kg more respectively, and those with cereal on the counters carried on average 9.4kg extra weight.
And men’s body mass index (BMI) was more when cookies or confectionary were on the kitchen bench.
Now, the study only shows a possible correlation, not causation – but it certainly offers food for thought!
The researchers concluded on the theory: out of sight, out of mind. Basically, you are less likely to reach for the not-so-great foods, whether out of hunger, habit or boredom, if you aren’t always looking at them!
This is applicable not only to the kitchen bench, but also the car, desk, lunchroom and any other space you frequent.
Mindless eating is becoming commonplace as we are increasingly busy or preoccupied, not stopping for lunch, eating at the desk or on the run, or munching our way through an entire pack of Tim Tams whilst watching Australian Idol.
Not being fully present and aware to our body’s signals when eating or drinking means we can consume too fast and too much (especially the not-so-good-sugar-laden stuff) when our body may have been telling us for some time to quit, or that it only wanted some water!
So, what do we take from this?
- Keep the sugar laden, snacky, packaged foods away in the pantry.
- Have out fresh fruit, and a bottle of water on hand.
- Ask yourself before you reach for the food – am I really hungry? Or am I thirsty? Try having a drink of water and wait for 10 minutes to see if the inclination to eat that sugary packaged food wanes.
- Practising mindfulness can help, and has been shown to help with weight loss.
By Angela Johnson (BHSc. Nut. Med.)
- Wansink, B, Hanks, AS, & Kaipainen, K 2016, ‘Slim by Design: Kitchen Counter Correlates of Obesity’, Health Education & Behavior: The Official Publication Of The Society For Public Health Education, vol. 43, no. 5, pp. 552-558.