The secret is out: Decluttering your kitchen has a surprising advantage that goes way beyond organization. Turns out, it can seriously improve your diet and even help you lose weight.
By now, you’re probably well aware that tidying your living spaces is a thing, thanks to our latest lifestyle guru Marie Kondo and her bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Netflix series, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. And yes, the rumors are true, having a tidy home really can make you feel lighter (both mentally and physically).
Studies have shown that a tidy kitchen can spark clean eating habits by reducing the stress that drives us to make unhealthy choices. A 2016 study published in the journal Environment and Behavior looked at what happened when both stressed and non-stressed women walked into a messy kitchen versus a clean kitchen. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the stressed women in the messy kitchen consumed more calories than those in the clean kitchen. But even the non-stressed women ate more just due to the mess.
Want to use Marie Kondo’s KonMari tidying methods in your kitchen? All you have to do is follow the five steps below.
Ask, “Does this spark…healthy choices?”
Pull everything out of your pantry so you can go through each item individually. Instead of asking yourself the famed question “Does this spark joy?” as the KonMari method recommends, ask yourself, “Will this improve my health?” If the answer is no, it’s time to throw it away or donate it to a food bank. As you put everything back in your pantry, reorganize by assigning a designated area for each type of food (canned goods, grains, baking ingredients, spices, etc.) to make healthy cooking a cinch.
Declutter your countertops
One of the best ways to keep your calories in check is by keeping nothing on your counters. Really, nothing. Dish soap and sponges should be stored under the sink. Small appliances like your toaster or blender should be tucked away in a cupboard. The only exception: a bowl of fresh fruit. A 2015 study in Health Education and Behavior looked at hundreds of households and found people who had junk food like candy, chips, or cookies on their countertops weighed significantly more than those who only kept fruit out on display.
Having a squeaky-clean countertop might also inspire you to finally cook more meals at home. How? Well, for starters, you won’t feel stressed just from stepping into your kitchen.
Reorganize your refrigerator
Like you did with your pantry, take everything out of your refrigerator and freezer so you can assess, item by item, what you should keep. Toss anything that’s expired or straight-up unhealthy. Oh, and those UFOs (unidentified frozen objects) hiding in your freezer have got to go. Then, reorganize in a way that fits how you cook, keeping your go-to items easily accessible.
You should also make a shopping list of perishables before you go to the supermarket; that way you’ll only buy what you really need. Remember, most meats and cheeses are fresh for about a week. Produce and leftovers have even shorter shelf lives, clocking in at just a few days. And yes, frozen foods can spoil too. Nothing should be kept in your freezer for more than a year.
Clean out your cupboards
Cupboards and drawers are lifesavers when it comes to keeping things out of sight and off your kitchen counters. But you want your cupboards to be organized and tidy—not jam-packed with stuff you never use. Take everything out of your cupboards and drawers and keep only the essentials. Donate extra dishware, silverware, and cookware, and let go of things like cake stands, Jell-O molds, and Bundt cake pans that you rarely (if ever) use.
Set a mealtime routine
Marie Kondo recommends practicing mindful eating by having all meals and snacks while seated and at a table. That means no eating while standing in your kitchen multitasking or while sitting in front of the TV. Having a dedicated ritual around mealtime is one of the best ways to be more thoughtful about what you’re eating and the impact your food choices are having on your body. Plus, if Marie Kondo does it, it might as well be a golden rule, right?