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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 2, 2018

      How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

      How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

      Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

      The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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      The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

      Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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      Review Your Past Flow

      Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

      Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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      Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

      Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

      Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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      Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

      Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

      We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

      Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

        Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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