Staying slim starts with an orderly kitchen.
Professional organizer Marie Kondo has seemingly taken over the worldâor at least the closet of someone you knowâin the past year. Her bestselling bookÂ The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpÂ is 213 compelling pages about, you guessed it, the art of tidying.
In Kondoâs newest book,Â Spark Joy, she breaks down her process of eliminating items that donât (you guessed it again) spark joy, and expertly organizing and storing ones that do. IfÂ The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpÂ was âTidying 101,âÂ Spark JoyÂ is the ultimate master class in how to perform a systematic room-by-room overhaul. But lest you think you donât need a guide forÂ cleaning your house, Kondoâs signature KonMari method might convince you otherwiseâespecially because heeding her organizational advice can potentially aid in helping you stay slim. It all starts with an orderly kitchen.
Science Says: Clean Kitchen, Clean Eats
Why get your neat freak on in the kitchen? When it comes to healthy habits, even science is on Kondoâs side. AÂ recent studyÂ published in theÂ Environment & Behavior JournalÂ suggested that the more cluttered our environments, the more likely we are to overeat. With an organized kitchen, you might be less likely to go on a 20-cookie bender when youâre scrounging for a nighttime snack. âHaving a clean kitchen or home makes you feel more in control and primes you to stay in control,â says Dr. Brian Wansink, Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and coauthor of the study. âItâs easier to simply clean your kitchen than to fight it by trying to talk yourself out of unhealthy decisions.â
Lauren Slayton, MS, RD, founder ofÂ FoodtrainersÂ in NYC, agrees. âHaving a tidy kitchen is stress-reducing, and having lower levels of stress hormones directly translates to more weight loss and less stress eating,â she says. âPlus, who wants to cook in a mess of a kitchen?â Kondoâs goal: Helping you create a kitchen that makes cooking fun. We enlisted Slayton to explain how seven of Kondoâs simple principles can help you find happiness in the kitchen and fewer pounds on the scale.
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7 Expert-Approved Ways to Declutter Your Kitchen
1. Focus on ease of cleaning, not ease of use.
After observing a restaurant kitchen, Kondo realized the kitchen was designed so the chefs could easily clean as they cooked, instead of creating a massive pileup of dirty dishes and counters. There was no time-consuming cleanup at the end of their shiftâthey just had to do one final wipe of the counters. âIf you want a kitchen that you can enjoy cooking in, aim for one thatâs easy to clean,â she writes.
Slayton points out that weâre more likely to want to be in a space when itâs orderly. âPiles and clutter send us the message that weâre not doing what we should be and, frankly, leave less physical space for working, cooking, and whatever else you want to do,â she says. âBut cleanliness and tidiness are examples of self-care. Itâs not just about cleaning upâitâs about the positive repercussions from doing so.â Think of organizing your kitchen as the equivalent of getting a massage. Youâre more likely to feel taken care of and, as a result, more likely to treat your body better by fueling up with good-for-you eats.
2. Keep your counters as clean and clear as possible.
âPut nothing on the counters or around the sink and stove top,â Kondo writes. âYou will be amazed at how easy your kitchen is to use if you design your storage with this aim in mind.â If youâre in a teeny-tiny kitchen where your counter space is a precious commodity, itâs OK to keep some things on the counter so long as theyâre away from the oil or water splash zones.
Ever hear the old adage âout of sight, out of mind?â It applies here. If you can see food, youâre more likely to eat it. âIf you want to eat less toast, donât keep the toaster out where you can see it,â Slayton says.Â âOn the flipside, if youâre motivated to makeÂ smoothies, keep the [blender] ready and visible on the counter.â SheÂ keeps a fruit bowl on her counter because itâs colorful and inviting and it makes her smileâand then sheâs more likely to grab an easy-to-reach piece of fruit than a brownie thatâs stashed in a cupboard. BeÂ smart about storage, too. âI love my juicer, but I donât use it much in the winter, so I keep it in the laundry room,â SlaytonÂ says. âTeeny spaces force your hand a bit more, but thatâs goodâuse it or lose it.â
3. Cut down on your dish supply.
All those fancy dishes youâre saving to use âfor guests,â but havenât actually whipped out in years? It may be time to part with them. âTake a fresh look at every dish you own and see if it sparks joy,â Kondo writes. âMake the dishes you love the ones you use every day.â
StudiesÂ have shown that we eat less off of smaller plates and drink more out of larger glasses. So keep that in mind when youâre doing your cupboard purge. Having fun with your food by making it look nice will create more enjoyable mealtime, too. âI encourage clients to plate their food the way theyâd like it presented at a restaurant,â Slayton says. âBento boxes can make your lunch feel more appealing, andâwhile it may be the Instagram effectâmason jars and glass straws are great for smoothies.â The prettier our food looks, the more likely we are to want to savor every bite or sip.
4. Toss anything thatâs past its prime.
Kondo says to discard food thatâs past its expiration date, or to simply eliminate anything you wouldnât actually want to consume. (Hint: It may be time to toss that specialty hot sauce lurking in the back of your fridge.)
Creating a system for tossing overdue items can help with that. âFor ingredients like spices and baking items, date them with a Sharpie and discard them by their first anniversary,â says Slayton. âAnd try to use ingredients up. If youâre making pesto turkey burgers one night, have pesto pasta the next. It makes me crazy to use a tablespoon of something and then have it sit around. Waste sparks the opposite of joy in me.â
5. Keep your refrigerator 30 percent empty.
Not only will this strategy better help you see the actual contents of your fridge, itâll also allow for extra room to store leftovers or unexpected gifts.
Keep what you want to eat at eye level in the fridge, says Slayton.Â She recommends working by category, and only keeping two to three items per category, like hot sauces, jams or vinegars, on hand at a time. âAnd keep things presented nicely within the fridge, like a tray for your eggs or a glass bottle to keep water cold,â she says.
6. Itâs OK to have a lot of kitchen stuff.
The key is making sure youâre hanging onto items you actually use and love. If youâre aÂ frequent spiralizer, smoothie-maker, or food processing whiz, by all means hang onto those bulky appliances even if they hog your shelf space. âWhat matters is the ability to see where everything is stored,â Kondo writes. Never underestimate the power of a label-maker, clear storage containers, or categorically organized pantry shelves.
Pro tip:Â BeÂ smart about what you choose to keep around. âI cook, and I like my kitchen to reflect that,â Slayton says. âBut if you registered for a paella pan when you got married but havenât made paella by your fifth wedding anniversary, you can probably get rid of the pan.â Regardless of aesthetics, you need to be able to find the cumin or grab a mixing bowl without major effort.
7. Make your eating space a happy place.
Yes, it seems like a lot of effort to roll out a placemat and whip out the napkin rings, but if you have them, use them to enrich your mealtime, Kondo says. Your dining area should be free from distractions (sorry,Â Jeopardy) and filled with your favorite things.
âI turn on music and light my favorite candle whenever I enter the kitchen,â says Slayton. It sets the mood for more enjoyable meals. âRemove the eyesores and obstacles and include the scents, sounds and ingredients that make you happy. If standing at the counter, eating out of the package is at one end of the spectrumâand that isnât the positive side â sitting at the table, using utensils and a placemat is different. I would predict very few binge episodes happen in placemat situations.â
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