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Which One Is More Like Your Kitchen? It Might Reveal Your Diet And Health

Which One Is More Like Your Kitchen? It Might Reveal Your Diet And Health

Rising rates of people who are overweight or obese is a problem both in the United States and around the world. One of the reasons for this is that weight gain (and loss) is more than just about eating fewer calories or exercising more. Hormonal imbalances, medical conditions, and even the environment can affect the way weight is gained and lost, and a new study out of the University of New South Wales in Australia underlines just how important the environment can be to a healthy diet.

The Experiment

messy kitchen
    Chaotic Kitchen
      Neat Kitchen

      In order to understand a little more about the relationship between stress, eating habits and the environment, 100 college students were chosen to participate in this study. The students were divided into 2 groups, one being placed in a neat and tidy kitchen environment while the other was placed in a kitchen which was chaotic and cluttered. Once there, the students were encouraged to think and talk about times they had felt in control of a situation and times when they had felt stressed or out of control. Cookies, crackers, and carrots were provided to the students as part of the study.

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      The Results

      The result of this study were starker than many of the researchers had expected: the students who were in a more chaotic frame of mind and in the cluttered kitchen ate more of the cookies than those who were situation in the neat and tidy kitchen. As a matter of fact, they ate more than twice as many calories as the other students.

      The research suggested that eating in a chaotic environment is not recommended for those who are wanting to lose weight or to keep it off, as it encourages overeating and makes it easier to consume more calories than you realize, making it easy to put on weight and to derail attempts at weight loss.

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      Researcher’s noted that “Although a chaotic environment can create a vulnerability to making unhealthy food choices, one’s mindset against the environment can either trigger or buffer against that vulnerability.”

      Reasons for The Students’ Behavior

      The reasons for the behavior the students in the chaotic environment are not, perhaps, surprising, considered that other studies have found that the mental chaos which arises from being in a cluttered or chaotic environment can easily lead to unhealthy eating habits and weight gain. Part of this is because that when the body feels like it is under stress — as it can do in a surroundings that are chaotic — it produces chemicals and hormones that make it easier to gain weight. One of those chemicals is called betatropin, which blocks the activity of an enzyme that burns fat and cortisol, a hormone which rises in response to stress and which signals to the body that it needs to store fat, particularly in the abdominal area.

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      What to Learn from This Study

      This might be a small study, but there are a lot of important lessons to take away from it. The most important lesson to learn is that chaos and clutter around the house really can affect the quality of your environment — which, in turn, can affect your eating habits. The trial mentioned above is not the only one to find this link: another study in 2008 found that people who struggled with organizing their homes or work spaces were 77% more likely to be overweight or obese. Thus, while it may seem difficult to do, decluttering your home and providing yourself an organized, neat environment to be in can actually help your efforts to lose weight.

      The Importance of Decluttering

      This study underlines the importance of decluttering one’s life in order to reduce stress (and cortisol levels) in order to make it easier to lose weight, and while decluttering won’t happen overnight, you can make a difference if you are persistent and take care of the problem over time.

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      Tips for a good clean-out include:

      • Making sure you have the materials (such as storage bins) ready ahead of time
      • Choosing one area at a time to work on for decluttering
      • Buying the products (such as hooks for car keys or filing cabinets for papers) that are tailored for your particular needs.
      • Be sure to sort papers into “like” piles to make it easier to organize and file them.

      In short, decluttering might feel like a lot of work — and even seem overwhelming at times — but as studies like this one show, the short— and long-term benefits you will derive from this activity more than make up for the effort you will put into it.

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      Brian Wu

      Health Writer, Author

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      Last Updated on December 9, 2019

      5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

      5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

      Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

      Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

      Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

      1. Get Rationally Optimistic

      Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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      This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

      In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

      The result: no more mental stress.

      2. Unplug

      Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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      How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

      It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

      Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

      3. Easy on the Caffeine

      Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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      Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

      4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

      That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

      How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

      • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
      • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
      • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

      While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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      5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

      This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

      The result: mental stress will be gone!

      So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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      Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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