Does This Clutter Make Me Fat?

If your house is out of control, it's possible your eating habits are too.

Clutter guru Peter Walsh wrote Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight* because so many of his clients struggled with obesity.  "What you weigh isn't just about calorie counting or doing stomach crunches," he writes.  "What you weigh is about how you live."

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Research shows that women eat more sweets and fatty foods when under stress from work or other responsibilities.  And guess what?  A cluttered, messy kitchen caused women to eat almost three times as many sweets than a less chaotic kitchen.

cluttered kitchen

There's a clear link between clutter and obesity.

Clutter is exhausting and it drains your energy, which can make you feel hopeless and apathetic about everything, including exercise or a healthy diet.  Researchers at UCLA found that women who live in cluttered homes have elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol.  Excess cortisol causes increased insulin, which causes weight gain.

If I can't find my athletic shoes, I'm not going to take that brisk walk to the park.  If my kitchen counter is cluttered with piles of mail, unwashed dishes, condiment bottles, boxes of cereal, and a row of a dozen cookbooks, I don't have room to chop vegetables or soak a pot of beans.  When I'm that overwhelmed, it's too easy to grab junk food for a hit of quick energy, or turn to takeout because I can't face the work that needs to be done before I can even start to cook dinner.

Walsh says he knew his clients would feel more positive and capable once they decluttered their homes.  What he didn't realize was that "filling your life with stuff you can't possibly use or want doesn't stop at the front door.  Clutter invades every aspect of your life."  Clearing the detritus brings freedom and a sense of control, and this new mindset sometimes results in weight loss, as well.

Marie Kondo, international best-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has written that "when we reduce what we own and essentially 'detox' our house, it has a detox effect on our bodies as well."  

Decluttering could be the jumpstart we need.

Minimalism helps us choose what's valuable and discard what's in the way.  It's about clearing away the unloved and unnecessary so we can start over with the stuff that matters.  

In the same way, healthy eating isn't really about "going on a diet" – it's about removing the junk so we can be nourished by the good stuff.  If clutter "invades every aspect of your life," as Walsh tells us, then decluttering could also influence your life in multiple ways.  

When you gain control of your home and your schedule, you might also gain control of eating and exercise.

Updated January 2023


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