You work long hours, you mostly eat takeout, and you’ve really been meaning to clean your kitchen, but you just can’t find the time to. If this scenario sounds all too familiar, you’re not alone; just know that, according to a new study, that the mess in your kitchen (or office or living room) might be the reason that you reach for those extra Oreos.


According to NPR, a Cornell University study published in the journal Environment and Behavior found that a cluttered kitchen is a big influencer when it comes to overeating. The researchers set up two test kitchens: one was filled with dirty dishes, newspapers, and was a general mess; meanwhile, the other was clean as a whistle. The researchers asked 100 women to come to the kitchens and write a short essay. Some women were asked to write about times they felt out of control, while others were asked to write about times they felt completely in control. All of the women were given the option to eat snacks (cookies, crackers and carrots), with the researchers assuring the participants they could eat as much as they want.

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The study found that in the messy kitchen, women who wrote about being out of control consumed twice as many calories from cookies than the women who wrote about being in control. Brent Wansick, a Cornell researcher involved in the study, says that the results show how much we don’t realize about our eating habits. “We think we’re smarter than the environment around us,” Wansick said. “That’s why these external cues are so powerful.”


Although, the chaotic kitchen and mindset only had an influence on the cookie consumption, as the women in both settings ate similar amounts of the healthier carrots and crackers. “The results suggest that an individual’s mindset can moderate the impact of a chaotic environment on food intake, particularly for sweet foods.” Wansick said.

So if you’re not going to do your dishes, the least you can do for your body and mind is to keep some vegetables in your fridge instead of that tub of Tollhouse cookie dough.

[via NPR]