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Study Says We Eat More When Our Kitchens Are Messy

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Trying to lose weight? Other than joining a gym and eating more salads, you might want to consider cleaning your kitchen. According to NPR, a new study published in the journal Environment and Behavior indicates that we stress-eat when we’re surrounded by clutter.

To test how our living environments influence our eating habits, researchers from Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab recruited 101 female undergraduates and put half of them in a neat kitchen, and the other half in a messy one filled with mail, newspapers, and unwashed dishes. Adding to the surface chaos, the messy kitchens were also filled with noisy distractions including a ringing phone and an intrusive professor.

After telling participants in both kitchens that they’d be examined for correlations between personality and taste preference, researchers gave them a writing assignment. Participants were instructed to write about a time where they felt out of control or in control. In the meantime, they were provided with an all-you-can-eat snack supply with choices ranging from healthy (carrots) to mildly healthy (crackers) to unhealthy (cookies).

Study organizers found that women in the messy kitchen who wrote about being out of control ate nearly twice as many calories from cookies—an average of 103 calories—than women who wrote about being out of control in the clean kitchen (61 calories in cookies). As for carrots and crackers, kitchen cleanliness didn’t greatly affect whether women ate more or less of them.

The study is limited in that researchers didn't assess how the writing assignments, the kitchens themselves, or the noises in the messy kitchen affected participants' emotions. However, the results suggest that spending time in a disorderly environment with a stressed mindset can trigger us to overeat indulgent foods.

“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?’” says the study’s lead author, Lenny Vartanian, now an associate professor of psychology at the University of New South Wales in Australia. “I suspect the same would hold with males.”

Bottom line? If you’re trying to stick to a diet, try tidying up. “It’s easier to spend five minutes cleaning up your kitchen than 24 hours trying to resist snacks,” senior study author Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and author of Slim by Design, told Reuters.

[h/t NPR]

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Job Alert: The UK Needs a Chicken Nugget Taste-Tester

Do you like highly-processed chicken molded into mushy, breaded bites? Are you willing to relocate to England? Can your palate distinguish a savory nugget from a mediocre one? Your dream job awaits, AJC.com reports.

British retail chain B&M recently posted a job listing calling for a "chicken nugget connoisseur" to help the company get feedback on their new line of frozen food products. The chosen applicant—or applicants—will get a monthly voucher worth £25 ($34) to spend on frozen goods. Job duties consist of eating nuggets and other items and then providing B&M feedback.

The post describes the position as "temporary," so it's unlikely there's opportunity for advancement. If you care to apply, B&M will accept a paragraph describing yourself and why you’d be good for the job—though if you actually have a CV full of previous nugget-related positions, we're confident they'd love to see it.

[h/t AJC.com]

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Animals
Switzerland Just Made It Illegal to Boil Live Lobsters
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No, lobsters don’t scream when you toss them into a pot of boiling water, but as far as the Swiss government is concerned, they can still feel pain. The path most lobsters take to the dinner plate is supposedly so inhumane that Switzerland has banned boiling lobsters alive unless they are stunned first, The Guardian reports.

The new law is based on assertions from animal rights advocates and some scientists that crustaceans like lobsters have complex nervous systems, making death by boiling incredibly painful. If chefs want to include lobster on their menus, they’re now required to knock them out before preparing them. Acceptable stunning methods under Swiss law include electric shock and the “mechanical destruction” of the lobster’s brain (i.e. stabbing it in the head).

The government has also outlawed the transportation of live lobsters on ice or in icy water. The animals should instead be kept in containers that are as close to their natural environment as possible until they’re ready for the pot.

Proponents of animal rights are happy with the decision, but others, including some scientists, are skeptical. The data still isn’t clear as to whether or not lobsters feel pain, at least in the way people think of it. Bob Bayer, head of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, told Mental Floss in 2014 that lobsters “sense their environment, but don’t have the intellectual hardware to process pain.”

If you live in a place where boiling lobsters is legal, but still have ethical concerns over eating them, try tossing your lobster in the freezer before giving it a hot water bath. Chilling it puts it to sleep and is less messy than butchering it while it’s still alive.

[h/t The Guardian]

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