Surprisingly, a New Year’s commitment to weight loss should also include de-cluttering your home. Chaos breeds sloppiness and that messiness can extend to your food habits or other areas of life. When you struggle with weight, clutter and chaos can be a sure recipe for weight gain.
Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, conducts studies that aim to identify specific causes of over-eating. From the size and color of your plate, to the lighting in your home, he has found specific instigators of over-eating, particularly among already overweight individuals. His findings identify environmental factors that nudge people, sometimes unconsciously, to eat more. Not surprisingly, clutter and chaos can be one of those instigators. Clutter often represents loss of control. Disorganization in the kitchen can be especially problematic for weight-challenged individuals.
If you’re the type of person who keeps food on display in your kitchen, like boxes of cereal or bags of nuts, or a breadbox, then it’s no surprise you mindlessly grab these foods when you’re hungry; especially when you’re emotionally hungry! Easy come, easy go is the motto here. The moment you’re stressed, you grab the easily available food, repeatedly. Most people don’t have a bowl of fruit on display in the kitchen. If they did, that might be the go-to food, which would be easier on your waistline. But let’s face it - the kitchen is also the home’s hub, so you spend a lot of time there. With lots of food on display, there is no way you can fight the temptation to endlessly indulge.
Clutter in the home can also prevent you from preparing healthier food. If there are papers or projects half-finished occupying kitchen counters, then you can’t chop and prepare a salad or have the space to prep chicken or fish. Kitchen appliances like a blender, crock pot or food processor that are never used, front and center in the kitchen, may actually "upset" you because you bought them and you’re not using them, pushing you to snack in frustration.
**Think of cleaning your kitchen and home as a "cleanse." Take it as seriously as a diet or other method of weight loss. If you clean up your environment you may find out that being disciplined with your eating habits are now easier. **
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Put away gadgets you don’t use because their presence can stress you.
- Give counter surfaces, the oven, and any gadgets used daily, a good cleaning.
- Take everything out of your fridge, toss old outdated foods, and then group "like foods" together.
- Empty your pantry and group food items together, keeping sectors.
- Decide how much processed food you are selectively going to bring into your kitchen - limit easy-grab foods like crackers, cookies, chips.
- Plan menus and make sure you have the ingredients.
- Do keep a stash of simple ingredients like frozen fruits and vegetables, canned low sodium beans, low sodium stock, herbs and spices, cooking spray, olive oil, eggs, canned tuna, Greek yogurt, on hand.
- Keep a shopping list on your fridge and add to it as you use up foods.
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Known as The HealthGal, expert contributor Amy Hendel is a popular medical and lifestyle reporter, nutrition and fitness expert, columnist, and brand ambassador, as well as a health coach. Trained as a physician assistant, she maintains a health coach private practice in New York and Los Angeles. Author of The Four Habits of Healthy Families, you can find her on Twitter @HealthGal1103 and on Facebook at TheHealthGal. Her personal mantra is “Fix it first with food, fitness, and lifestyle.”