With all due respect to Capital One credit cards, let me ask you a question. What’s on your kitchen counter?
If it’s a bowl of fruit, you can skip this article and check out some of the delicious recipes also available on this site. If it’s a bottle of soda or a box of cereal, read on and pray you haven’t found us too late.
A Cornell University study, first published in October of 2015 and more recently reported on by thealternativedaily.com, healthcentral.com, and others, would have us believe that there is a correlation between what’s in plain sight on your counter and your body mass index (BMI). The photographs of over 200 kitchens in the Syracuse area seemed to indicate that women with junk food on the counter weighed 20-25 pounds more than women who had fruit out in the open.
Not to sound like a fiftysomething, but, is this what they’re teaching in the Ivy Leagues these days? Will a follow-up study find that households with cigarettes on the counter smoke more than households without cigarettes on the counter?
I’m not saying the findings aren’t accurate, but they are oversimplified. Brian Wansink, lead author in the study and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, is quoted in a couple of the articles I read, speculating that the heavier women are eating a handful of cereal every time they walk by the box. They must really like Cap’n Crunch. Do they wash it down with a swig of Sprite, too?
For comparison purposes, I looked at my own kitchen counters. We don’t have a big kitchen. Once you get past the coffee maker, toaster oven, dish drainer, set of knives, and spot for mail, there isn’t much room for anything else. But some things are noteworthy.
The only food item on the counter is a jar of tahini. We have vitamins on the counter, and, despite their visibility, we often forget to take them. We do have a fruit basket on top of the microwave. It usually has lemons in it, and, occasionally, an apple or two. We always have bananas on a shelf in the dining room.
But on a screened porch, four short steps from the kitchen, we have two twelve packs of Mountain Dew. Christmas cookies are in plain view in the same area from December to February. A bag of Trader Joe’s puffed corn sits on top of the refrigerator. We’ve had a single can of Coke in our refrigerator for over ten years. No one in our house even drinks Coke.
The Cornell study also found that the women who weighed less had a “designated cupboard” for snacks. The skinny women can’t see the junk food so they can’t eat it. It’s like magic. Maybe the heavy women had to put the cereal on the counter because their cereal cupboards were crammed full with snacks.
If there are sugary cereals and soda in the kitchen, someone is going to eat and drink them. I get that. But what led the household to that point? Making the switch from snacks to fruit is a major behavioral change and not easy to do. Because the best way to keep the bad foods out of the picture is to not buy them in the first place.
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