When you think of spring cleaning, you probably picture a weekend dedicated to throwing away old junk. But what you probably don’t know is that spring cleaning can do more for you than just clear up some space in the garage. Scourging your home—and the kitchen especially—can actually help you lose the winter weight that’s been plaguing you since you pulled out those wool sweaters.
You heard us right: A clean, organized kitchen encourages healthy eating, promotes weight loss, and will make your life less stressful overall. So go ahead and let that productive attitude lead you right into your kitchen with these expert-backed tips to guide you. And if you want healthy recipes, supermarket shopping guides, and essential nutrition tips at your fingertips, subscribe to the new Eat This, Not That! magazine now! For a limited time, you can save 50 percent off the cover price—click here!
Swap Out Bulky Boxes for Clear Containers
Is the top of your fridge littered with half-empty cereal boxes? Keeping food in bulky cardboard boxes makes it easy to overeat. If you can’t see the dent you made the first time, you might be more inclined to pour another bowl of Special K. Jennifer Marcus, owner of D’Clutter Design, tells us in 25 Ways to Organize Your Kitchen for Weight Loss Success that the best way to get ahead of these issues is by switching your food over to sealable clear containers and jars. “Not only will you gain space, but by using clear containers, you will know when you are running low and need to replenish your stock,” she said.
Rework Your Spice Rack
Whether you keep your herbs and spices on a rotating pyramid or in that dark corner of your pantry, those little bottles of flavor-boosters are notorious for getting lost and outliving the family pet. And while 5-year-old cayenne pepper won’t spoil or make you sick, spices lose their flavor around three years after they’re packaged, so it might be time to toss out the army of ancient bottles you’re collecting. After you clear your kitchen of the old, consider alphabetizing or color-coding the spices that remain to keep them organized. When they’re easy to find, you’re more likely to use them in place of caloric sauces. Consider coating a chicken breast in a seasoned dry rub instead of slathering it with a couple tablespoons of BBQ sauce to save 70 calories and 16 grams of sugar! One nifty trick is to hang a shoe organizer on the inside of your pantry door and fill the pockets with spices for easy access.
Play Hide and Seek With Your Junk Food
Remember when you were a kid and the cookie jar was the most tempting treasure in the world? Well, for most people, that sweet tooth doesn’t just disappear when you’re tall enough to reach the jar without parental assistance. When it comes to food, temptation is everywhere, so stick with the old saying: Out of sight, out of mind. Marissa Ciorciari, MS, RD, LD/N, CLT, and Functional Nutritionist at Carillon Miami Beach recommends hiding junky snacks and desserts on the top shelves of the pantry so they aren’t the first thing you see when you go hunting for something to curb your appetite. Want to kick the weight loss up a notch? Try placing healthy snacks in plain sight instead.
Take Advantage of Multi-Use Appliances
Kitchen gadgets such as slow cookers and Instant Pots can actually help you eat healthily, save counter space, and shed pounds. Think about it: Cooking in a Crock Pot is way more efficient than using multiple pots, pans, and utensils to whip something up on the fly. And the new kid on the block—the Instant Pot—is making it that much easier to cook healthy dishes in a jiffy. Just be sure to pick a healthy recipe, like one of these 15 Instant Pot Recipes for Weight Loss.
Keep ‘Emergency Meals’ Healthy and Prepped
Freezers can quickly turn into a black hole of frozen pizzas and microwaveable meals. In the name of spring cleaning, toss those processed, empty calories and replace them with healthy freezer meals instead, like frozen fruit or organic veggie burgers. We all have those nights when you come home too exhausted to cook, but you can replace the worst frozen foods in America with healthier options like frozen cauliflower rice and get the same speedy meal for a fraction of the calories. Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, tells us quality over quantity matters and to choose wisely so “that way there is no excuse to order takeout.”
Toss Your Old Tupperware
We all have THAT cabinet. You know the one. You avoid it because when you open the doors, loose storage containers fall out in a roaring avalanche, like a scene in one of those annoying infomercials. It’s time to say goodbye to the mismatched takeout containers you sent through the dishwasher and swore you’d use again someday. Here’s why: A study from Cornell University showed that those with messy, cluttered kitchens were more likely to reach for fatty snacks than those in a clean, stress-free one. Essentially, decluttering your on-the-go boxes will make you feel more relaxed, and since cortisol, the hormone triggered by stress, leads to fat storage, less stress means less belly fat! Also, choosing reasonably sized Tupperware in favor of the huge takeout bins will help you with portion control. It’s a win-win for your weight loss and cleaning goals.
Take Advantage of Technology
It is the 21st century, after all. Technology is at our fingertips, so why not use it to help you slim down? If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can do anything with an app. In this case, use it to compile your favorite healthy recipes and get rid of cookbooks that clutter your kitchen space. You can also use apps like MyFitnessPal to keep tabs on your calorie intake, steps you’ve taken in a day, and whether or not you’re getting enough REM sleep. All that info will be just as easy to access as the ingredients for the Green Goddess Buddha Bowl you’ve been drooling over all day. Think about how good it would feel to throw out all those old, dusty books taking up space and to replace them with a sleek iPad. Now that’s spring cleaning.
Clean the Forgotten Spots
You’d never eat off a plate covered in bacteria from raw chicken. It’s gross. You’d wash the plate, the cutting board you used, and wipe down the counter for good measure. But what about the other surfaces that might be contaminated? When you were cutting that chicken, how many times did you touch the handle of your garbage can or the door of your fridge? Did you let the meat thaw in the bottom of your sink? Your kitchen can become the ultimate bacteria hub if it’s not regularly cleaned. A 2013 study from Medical Mycology showed that, due to their environment, the handles and doors of dishwashers and refrigerators were found to contain black yeast that could be harmful to your health and cause inflammation. And since inflammation leads to belly-widening weight gain, a disinfection would be good for you in more ways than one. So as you’re throwing away unnecessary kitchen items, don’t forget to do a deep clean of the surfaces you’re constantly touching.
Clean With the Right Chemicals
It just makes sense that you should keep your kitchen clean, but some chemicals in common household cleaners could be worse than the bacteria! According to a report by the Environmental Working Group, many generic cleaning brands contain toxic chemicals that cause asthma attacks, allergic reactions, eye and skin irritation, and are known carcinogens. These dangerous additives are everywhere, and companies aren’t even required to disclose when they’re used, so it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to cleaners. According to a study by PLoS One, Triclosan, a chemical in toothpastes, soaps, and household cleaning supplies, can increase your body mass index by .9 percent. That may not seem like a lot, but it’s worth investing in chemical-free products like GreenShield Organic All-Purpose Cleaner to keep off unwanted weight.
Splurge on Organizational Gadgets
They may seem silly, but the “As Seen on TV” sections of stores like Bed Bath & Beyond can actually contain some seriously handy tools to help you get organized. And getting your hands on them is easier than ever (we’re looking at you, Amazon), so why not spend the extra cash purchasing something that can help you get organized while dropping pounds? And while it goes against the rules of spring cleaning to buy more things, if it will keep your kitchen clean in the long haul, we count that as a win. Whether it’s bins and baskets to separate pantry items or an over-the-door caddy to hold all your measuring cups, sometimes these life hack pieces are worth it. It doesn’t even have to cost an arm and a leg, either, especially with these 20 Life-Changing Weight Loss Tools Under $20 that make life a little easier. Because that’s what spring cleaning is all about, right?