The food you leave on your counter is making you fat

Oct 20, 2015 at 2:10 p.m. ET
Image: :Roberto Westbrook/Blend Images/Getty Images

If you are like most people on a diet, you worry very much about the foods brought into the house. Sugar? Carbs? Dairy? They can all be no-nos on certain diets. But what about the "healthy" foods on your counter? A new study says the real culprit in weight gain is the stuff you see that is immediately accessible.

The study comes from Cornell University. In it, 200 American kitchens were photographed, and researchers were asked to predict the weights of the female occupants of the home based on what was on the counter. Amazingly, it seems women who had breakfast cereal sitting on their counters weighed 20 pounds more than people who didn't, and those with soft drinks sitting out weighed 24 to 26 pounds more. Whoa. And what about if you are like me and the only food on your counter is a fruit bowl? Well, awesome news: Those women weighed about 13 pounds less.

None of this should come as a massive surprise. I know just in the past 24 hours, I have been tempted by the pecan pie sitting on my counter enough to give in and eat more than one slice. Had that been safely hidden in my pantry? I might have resisted.

The fact is, when food is easily accessible, we grab it more. For instance, my baby constantly asks for apples and bananas and oranges. Not because she is the Queen of Healthy Eating, but because she sees what is on the counter and not what is hidden away in the pantry.

So why not put out the fruit? It makes sense, right? Better yet, hide (or don't buy) all those temptation foods.

What is on your counter?