Lately I’ve been kind of obsessed with keeping my kitchen counters clear of clutter. This is actually a huge ordeal at our house since the kitchen is where we all hang out most of the time when we’re at home. Homework is done there, mail is sorted there, and of course, meals are made there. My kids eat their breakfast there and, if my husband is traveling, the kitchen counter is where I eat with the kids. So, basically, the kitchen is always messy.
“Clutter is clutter”.
I’m doing my best to keep my counters clear not just of the clutter, but clear of the “knick knacks” that most of us let accumulate there. Bottles of cooking oil, salt and pepper shakers, big bowls of fruit, candy dishes and big cookie jars. These last two are a staple of the holidays so it’s easy to get rid of those things come January, but what about the other stuff that just belongs on a kitchen counter? Doesn’t everyone have a container for their cooking utensils? And, what about vitamins and that really cool spice holder? The truth is, clutter is clutter. And, a cluttered kitchen may lead to stress eating and possible weight gain. (1) In a study published in the scientific journal Environment and Behavior, participants in a chaotic-kitchen condition and an out-of-control mind-set condition consumed more cookies (103 kcal) than did participants who were in the in-control mind-set condition (38 kcal).
This last note is important, not only because I am a registered dietitian and help people to lose weight, but also because clutter can also harbor bacteria and other yucky stuff that can make your family sick. So, here are a few tips to get you started on a de-cluttered kitchen and a de-cluttered mind.
- Clear off your counter tops as possible. Make space in your drawers and upper cabinets for kitchen utensils and spices. Can’t find any space for those? What about that “junk” drawer? Maybe it’s time to go through it and get rid of the junk. This will give you more space for all of those wooden spoons and ladles.
- Get rid of multiple kitchen utensils. Why do you need 10 rubber spatulas? Sort through your kitchen equipment and donate or toss duplicate items or worn out pieces.
- Update your spices and store them in dark cool place. Your countertop in direct sunlight is not the best place for them. This is also true for flour, oils, and other staples that can be affected by heat and light. A dark cool pantry or your refrigerator is a better place to store these items.
- Set a time each day that you will clean off your counter top. Maybe it’s before you head to bed, or maybe it’s right after dinner when you’re cleaning the pots and pans.
Organization of your kitchen may spark a “mini-revolution” where not only will you feel like you have more control of what you’re eating, but you will have more control over your schedule. Having better control of your schedule allows you to identify time for self-care, which includes being able to shop for healthier foods and put healthier meals together, being able to schedule time for exercise, and also being able to schedule your day so that you get to bed at a reasonable time. When I counsel my clients on weight management, better organization of their time in order to focus more time on self-care is the ultimate goal. The weight loss is just a bonus.
(1) Lenny R. Vartanian, Kristin M Kernan and Brian Wansink (2016). Clutter, Chaos, and Overconsumption: The Role of Mind-Set in Stressful and Chaotic Food Environments. Environment and Behavior.