According to a study by The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, people with messy or cluttered homes are 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese. 54-year-old Nanette Cooley can vouch for the legitimacy of that statistic. On the Today Show she discussed how she lost 50 pounds after conquering the clutter.
The study “Clutter, Chaos and Overconsumption” had the same results. The study focused on how do cluttered, chaotic environments—such as messy kitchens—influence snacking behavior? How does one’s mind-set help prevent unwanted snacking from occurring? One hundred one female undergraduate students participated under standard-kitchen conditions or in a chaotic-kitchen condition. Participants were also asked to recall and write about a time when they felt particularly in control or particularly out of control. Finally, participants were given cookies, crackers, and carrots to taste and rate. Participants in the chaotic-kitchen condition and the out-of-control mind-set condition consumed more cookies (103 kcal) than did participants who were in the in-control mind-set condition (38 kcal). The chaotic environment had no impact on consumption of crackers or carrots. Although a chaotic environment can create a vulnerability to making unhealthy food choices, one’s mind-set in that environment can either trigger or buffer against that vulnerability.
Another study found that participants in a disorderly room, participants in an orderly room chose healthier snacks and donated more money.
As professional organizers, the results of these studies didn’t surprise us. We saw the trend with our clients for some time. Many of our clients that were faced with clutter in their home, had the tendency to be overweight.
We know that clutter or chaos can be debilitating. If you walk in the door from work and are faced with a cluttered environment, it’s easy to grab an unhealthy snack and putt off making dinner. Sitting down in front of the TV or going on the computer may also be coupled with the snack. The extra calories and sedentary choice, leads to weight gain.
We also found that those who had clutter family rooms or living rooms, fell victim to the same trend of weight gain. If our clients were embarrassed by their home, they didn’t invite friends over. With decreased socialization, the tendency to eat unhealthy and be less active followed.
So where to you begin to curb the clutter and curb the urge to eat unhealthy? First, take the time to think about why you are eating unhealthy. Is it because your kitchen is cluttered or chaotic? Or perhaps it’s a pile of papers that debilitates you or a cluttered family room that prevents you from inviting others over to socialize.
Once you determine the area of your home that is affecting your eating or socialization choices, make a plan to get that area organized. The key to success is breaking the project into achievable segments.