Is Clutter Making You Fat?

by Charles Platkin, PhD

has been called the fat of our homes and offices, and it may be why you’re having trouble managing your . For most people, clutter leads to stress, and stress causes the production of the hormone cortisol, which increases belly fat. Cortisol also elevates your blood sugar levels, which causes insulin to be produced to regulate your blood sugar, leaving you feeling hungry. If you’re hungry, chances are you’re not going to realize it’s because of the stressor surrounding you — the clutter. Instead, you’re going to eat, and you’re probably not going to go for the fruits and vegetables hidden in the back of your refrigerator (that is, if you even have any).

Clutter can also affect your weight because it becomes an obstacle to eating healthfully and exercising. If you can’t find your sneakers and gym clothes, you’re not going to get to the gym. If the kitchen counters are covered with papers, and the pots and pans are hard to get to, you’re more likely to eat out or order in than cook a meal for yourself. And we know that meals from restaurants and fast-food joints are higher in calories, fat, and sodium than food cooked at home — all of which can lead to weight gain.

So what can you do? Declutter your life! You’ll feel the weight lifting from the everyday stress of living in a cluttered environment, and your body will lose weight, too! Here are some ways to get your life and weight under control:

  • Clean out your fridge and pantry. Throw away items that have passed their expiration dates and that contain unhealthy ingredients (for example, partially hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup). “Trigger foods” must also go — these are the foods you typically turn to that can lead to binges and unhealthy eating patterns.
  • Restock your kitchen with healthier food. Make a shopping list of items you need and know you will eat. Keep fresh fruit and vegetables in the front of the fridge for easy access.
  • Organize your pots and pans. Make sure you know where everything is and that you can reach it all easily. Get rid of old cooking supplies you never use.
  • Clear off the kitchen counters. The counters are meant for food prep, not storage of household items and newspapers. Get a newspaper and magazine holder for a separate area of the house, and keep newspapers from only one or two days at a time.
  • Sort through your closets. Try on clothes you never wear and if they don’t fit, give them away or put them in storage for when you lose weight (if it’s something you love, it can give you motivation to fit into it again!).
  • Keep a gym bag packed at all times. Make sure you always have a clean set of gym clothes and your sneakers packed and ready to take with you. You’ll have no excuse to miss the gym.

Do the same at the office and you’ll have clutter-free environments at all times!

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