How “thin” are your kitchen countertops?

If you are sitting in your kitchen right now, take a look around. Are your countertops relatively sparse or do you barely have room for a salt and pepper shaker?

It may sound silly, but according to new research, what you have sitting out on your countertops — from food to appliances — may have a surprising connection to the size of your waistline.

In a new study dubbed “Thin by Design” researchers from The Ohio State University collected data about what people had on their kitchen counters and asked them what they weighed.

Here’s what they found:

  • If you have cereal sitting out in plain sight, you’ll weigh approximately 20 pounds more than people who keep it in a cupboard. (And probably 40 pounds more than people who don’t buy it at all — though the study didn’t track that piece of data.)
  • If you’ve got a bottle of soda on the counter (either diet or regular), you will likely be 25 pounds heavier than people who don’t.
  • And men, if there is a toaster on your countertop, you’re likely to weigh 13 pounds more than men who don’t have a toaster sitting out.

The good news? If you have a bowl of fruit sitting on your counter, your average weight will be 13 pounds less than those who don’t.

The results of this study are really not a surprise to me, but eye-opening at the same time.  Cereal and soda are full of sugar. And what do we usually toast? Bread, which is full of sugar as well. Of course, eating sugary fruit all day isn’t really a good idea, either. But it just goes to show that whole foods win over processed any day of the week.

Here’s an even better idea than keeping a bowl of fruit within plain sight:

Keep a bowl of whole walnuts with a nutcracker, or a dish of pistachios in the shell where they are visible. If you have the urge to snack, these healthy nuts will curb your cravings, and make you work for the prize at the same time. And the extra effort will give you a little space for satiation to set it, so you don’t overdo it.

The mind is a powerful tool when it comes to eating. And I’ve read estimates that the average person makes nearly 200 decisions a day about what you’re going to eat. So if you can stage your environment with healthy food options, you’ll automatically eat better without much effort.