Believe it or not, a study conducted at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab found that spending time in a cluttered, chaotic kitchen can cause people to consume more calories. Who could’ve ever imagined? A clean kitchen could be a key strategy in the prevention of over-eating!
In the Cornell study, researchers divided 98 female participants into two groups. Half of the participants were told to wait in a messy, hectic kitchen—sinks full of dirty dishes, papers all over the counter, with a telephone ringing off the hook. The remaining half of the women waited in a clean, quiet kitchen. Bowls containing snacks of crackers, cookies, and carrots were placed in each kitchen.
In just 10 minutes, the participants who waited in the messy kitchen consumed over 50 calories more per person than the women who waited in the clean kitchen. By the time the study concluded, the women in the chaotic kitchen had consumed double the amount of calories than the women in the clean kitchen!
The lead author of the study, Lenny Vartanian, PhD., said “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?’”
Think about it – snacks give us permission to eat at non-traditional mealtimes. We all know breakfast is in the morning, lunch is in the afternoon, and dinner is at night… snacks however, have become any time free-for-all opportunities to chow down. In some instances, snacking turns into “mindless eating.” Talk about destructive and dangerous eating habits!
When we are tired and stressed (and who isn’t!) we are more susceptible to unhealthy eating, poorer food choices, and are far more likely to over-eat. Not only can this affect our waistlines, but can have a devastating effect on blood sugar for those with diabetes. That’s why we have to snack smart.
Start by eating regularly to make sure your body is getting the fuel it needs. For some, this means 3 larger meals and 2 snacks, for others it may mean eating every 2-3 hours. Find what works best for your blood sugar. Don’t skip meals. While it may be tempting to cut calories by not eating, this strategy will backfire. When you skip a meal, your blood sugar goes haywire. It can drop to unsafe levels; you will notice that you have less energy, and you may develop a headache, or stomachache.
When you finally do eat something, you are likely to over-eat (thereby consuming more calories than you would if you had eaten two regular meals), or make a less-than-ideal food choice because you are so hungry. Not to mention, your blood sugar will skyrocket because it is getting stimulated all at once instead of over the span of an entire day.
The types of food we choose to snack on can also make a huge impact on our eating habits. Scientific researchers are now searching for the most addictive foods. One study at the University of Michigan asked 500 people if they had trouble controlling their consumption of any particular foods – from broccoli to pizza.
Surprise, surprise – the top addiction-inducing foods were soda, pizza, chocolate, chips, cookies, cake, French fries, and ice cream. Fresh fruits and vegetables were at the very bottom of the list.
The study found that the addicting foods tended to be processed and high in carbohydrate and sugar content. No here comes the kicker – researchers hypothesize that not only is it the sugar that prompts dependency, but that food manufacturers purposefully add that sugar in order for consumers to become dependent upon their products.
Snacking is not evil, and does not have to negatively affect blood sugar. A snack’s purpose is to prevent excessive hunger, give the body an energy boost, and even help to regulate blood sugar. It’s important to choose a snack that will give you the energy you need without spiking your blood sugar. Combine protein, fats, and carbohydrates to get the most out of your snacks.
For example, trade in that whole banana for a bowl of berries and Greek yogurt. Or apple slices over cottage cheese with a sprinkle of cinnamon. (When it comes to yogurt and cottage cheese, be sure to choose the full-fat versions to increase the good fats and decrease the sugar.)
Instead of potato chips, try air-popped popcorn or a few kale chips. If a kale chip isn’t your thing, how about this recipe for pepperoni chips! Or, a full-fat string cheese with a handful of pistachios, cashews, or almonds. Or dunk some thinly sliced raw veggies into a nice hummus or this cool and creamy avocado dip. For even more ideas on easy healthy snacking, check out this link to Diabetic Kitchen’s Quick Snack Ideas for Diabetics.
So, the moral of the snacking story is this: when your body is running low on fuel, fill it with the right foods. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of over-eating and mindless snacking – your blood sugar depends on it. It also wouldn’t hurt to go clean your kitchen!