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Clearing Clutter May Help You Lose Weight

Achieve two goals with less effort? Yes, please! Getting organized could help you shed stubborn pounds.

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Black woman in her 40s clearing her space of clutter
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Are you having trouble losing those “last few” pounds? Does it seem like no matter what, you can’t stick to a healthy diet? First, Sis, we see you. It’s hard; if it weren’t, weight loss wouldn’t be a multibillion-dollar industry.

But science suggests that weight management doesn’t only boil down to nutrition and exercise. There could be another factor interfering with your weight loss efforts — clutter. A study by researchers at Florida State University exploring the link between organization and weight management shows that people with extremely cluttered homes were 77 percent more likely to be overweight or obese. And a March 2023 study published in the British Journal of Psychology reported that subjects consumed more cookies when in a cluttered room than in a tidy one — except for those who reported symptoms of a hoarding disorder. Yikes!

 Here’s why you might want to add decluttering to your weight loss strategy.

Clutter impacts your decision-making

A messy and cluttered environment affects our ability to focus, make wise choices and stick to our plans — important when maintaining or losing weight. Regarding eating habits, studies have shown that we’re more likely to eat unhealthy, high-caloric foods in cluttered and disorganized spaces. So, if you find yourself reaching for cookies and chips rather than almonds and whole grain crackers, your messy pantry may be partly responsible, not just your willpower. Tidy up those cupboards and other areas where you store your food, and you’ll be less vulnerable to grabbing unhealthy snacks.

Clutter creates and heightens stress

A messy and cluttered environment can create stress. And when stressed, our impulse control is limited, and we’re more likely to overeat. A 2016 study from Cornell and Syracuse Universities showed that participants experiencing an “out-of-control” state of mind ate more cookies than those with a calm mind. So, a cluttered home creates a double whammy. The messy environment makes us vulnerable to unhealthy choices, and the stress from the clutter adds another trigger for poor decisions.

Additionally, cortisol — the stress hormone — can cause weight gain, and it makes losing fat around the belly harder. Research published in the journal Biological Psychiatry also shows our metabolism slows down when we’re stressed. Maintaining a clutter-free environment can reduce stress levels and decrease the temptation to overeat.

Clutter habits can spill into other areas of your life

The habits that lead to clutter can also impact your weight loss journey and other categories of your life. For example, procrastination can often be the culprit of disorganization. (I’ll put that away later.) Overconsumption is another cause. (Oh, I need that … even though I have two just like it.) Those two habits alone can sabotage our health journeys. However, addressing them in our environment can prompt us to improve them in other areas.

Clearing the clutter

Now that we know the connection between clutter and weight, here are a few ways to address it.

Start small

Like establishing any new habit, decluttering your home in a manageable way is essential. So, the best way to do it is to start small. Tackle one room at a time. Then, break the room down to one section at a time. If necessary, break each section into tasks you do one at a time. With your weight and physical health in mind, the kitchen is an obvious place to start, but even that can be daunting. Focusing on the areas where you keep your food — the fridge, pantry or cabinets — can immediately impact your food choices.

Set yourself up for success

When approaching your decluttering, use strategies that help guarantee healthy eating habits. When organizing the fridge, make sure nutritious items are front and center — like clear storage containers of fruits and veggies. Place the not-so-healthy items towards the back of the refrigerator.

Similarly, in the pantry or cabinets, make healthy snacks accessible by placing them on eye-level shelves and the not-so-healthy items in less accessible areas. Take nuts and other goodies from their packages and put them in clear containers. Or consider prepackaging them in grab-and-go baggies and containers according to their portion size. Clear countertops except for items that need to be there, but be sure to strategically place things that promote your healthy diet — like a bowl of fresh fruit.

Simplify your routines and food choices

In addition to decluttering your physical space, streamlining your kitchen routines can help you stick to your plan. For example, if a morning protein smoothie is a part of your routine, make sure your blender stays out on your newly cleared counters, and ensure measuring cups, cutting boards or anything else you need are easily accessible. Even better, have your fruits and veggies preportioned in the fridge so you can quickly toss them in the blender.

Additionally, spending time meal-planning and food-prepping will help ensure you stick to your nutritious meals rather than grabbing fast food out of convenience. Limit yourself to two or three healthy snack options to satisfy your sweet and salty cravings. And consider throwing a measuring cup in the container to help you stick to the portion size.

Follow Article Topics: Health