Ever watch Paula Deen, Giada de Laurentiis, or Barefoot Contessa and think ‘I can do that!’?

A new study published in the cooking journal Appetite suggests that home cooks are making themselves heavier by watching cooking shows and then trying to pull off the recipes at home. They prepare the recipes too often and eat too much of them. Some people are going to blame butter and salt, but wouldn't it be better to blame a lack of discipline to those who can't eat moderate amounts of these foods? 

Researchers from Cornell surveyed 500 women in their 20s and 30s about their cooking habits then documented the women’s weight and height to calculate their Body Mass Index (BMI). They found an 11-pound different between those who just view the shows they see and those who take the next step and cooked.

Women who watched shows and cooked frequently from scratch had a mean weight of 164 pounds whereas women who watched the shows but didn’t cook much from scratch weighed about 153 pounds.

TV networks work hard to produce shows with mouth-watering viewer experiences that also can be replicated at home. Whether straight cooking shows, food competitions among the best and worst in America, or food travel adventures, TV cooking is no longer just Julia Child on PBS. Ours is generation that has latched on to the power of the Food Network programming, but we’ve also gone to social media to learn and share about food and cooking on websites such as Pinterest.

Compared with other women on TV, the waistlines of female TV chefs are far more forgiving. Instead of trying to mimic the size and looks of cooks, viewers seek to mimic their cooking styles and achieve their results. According to this research, with those yummy dishes come expanded waistbands.

And going to Pinterest or other social media channels for recipes do our waistlines no good either as finding recipes on social media had the same correlation with higher BMI.

The Washington Post reports:            

Mostly women watch these shows, often to learn specific cooking skills. But when people watch more of these food shows on television, it turns out they're also gaining more weight, according to a new study by researchers at Cornell University. And they're even more likely to gain weight if they also cook.

In all, the researchers noted 14 different ways in which the participants' cooking habits were influenced, including health Web sites, YouTube, magazines, newspapers, cooking shows, cooking blogs, and dietitians. But no source of inspiration did more to expand waistlines than food television.

The reason is largely tied to a phenomenon called social norming, in which people grow to assume that something is normal that shouldn't be. In this case, that something is regularly cooking and eating recipes prepared in a heavier fashion, loaded with butter and other fats. 

There are plenty of examples of shows and chefs that have gone to lengths to encourage healthy eating habits. Jamie Oliver, for one, made a documentary about the unhealthy food schools often serve children. But cooking shows, by and large, feature foods that aren't actually all that healthy (see Paula Deen). Television personalities, meanwhile, are authority figures that shape how viewers model their behavior. If people see a caloric dish being made by a celebrity they revere, they are likely to try to recreate that dish at home, Pope says.

"I'm torn, because as a dietitian I want to encourage people to cook at home, but just because you're cooking at home doesn't mean you're cooking healthy things and are going to lose weight," Pope said. "Restaurant quality meals really shouldn't be eaten every day."

Okay, here’s a tip. Either learn to practice self-discipline or turn off the TV.

These shows should not be used as an excuse for weight gain. It's important to note that correlation is not causation. Something else may explain the weight cooking relationship. It is interesting to observe how pop culture influences our behavior. The problem is not cooking at home what you see on TV or online but lacking in self-discipline.

Chef de Laurentiis who whips up savory and sweet Italian dishes yet maintains a trim petite figure is quoted on her eating habits, "I eat a little bit of everything and not a lot of anything. Everything in moderation." Moderation, unfortunately, is not a virtue in culture today. If something is good we are tempted to take it to the extreme. Resist that temptation—you can do it!

Moderation is a habit that we should learn and take outside of the kitchen. If you have a problem with weight, turn off the TV and go for a run. You have only yourself to hold accountable for what you eat.