Marie Kondo's tips for organizing your kitchen

Story highlights

  • Creating a calm kitchen environment can help people to cut back on stress triggers like overeating
  • Keep countertops clear and toss food that is past its prime

Professional organizer Marie Kondo has seemingly taken over the world — or at least the closet of someone you know — in the past year. Her bestselling book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" is 213 compelling pages about, you guessed it, the art of tidying.

In Kondo's newest book, "Spark Joy," she breaks down her process of eliminating items that don't (you guessed it again) spark joy, and expertly organizing and storing ones that do. If "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" was "Tidying 101," "Spark Joy" is the ultimate master class in how to perform a systematic room-by-room overhaul. But lest you think you don't need a guide for cleaning your house, Kondo's signature KonMari method might convince you otherwise — especially because heeding her organizational advice can potentially aid in helping you stay slim. It all starts with an orderly kitchen.

      Science Says: Clean Kitchen, Clean Eats

      Why get your neat freak on in the kitchen? When it comes to healthy habits, even science is on Kondo's side. A recent study published in the Environment & Behavior Journal suggested that the more cluttered our environments, the more likely we are to overeat. With an organized kitchen, you might be less likely to go on a 20-cookie bender when you're scrounging for a nighttime snack. "Having a clean kitchen or home makes you feel more in control and primes you to stay in control," says Dr. Brian Wansink, Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and coauthor of the study. "It's easier to simply clean your kitchen than to fight it by trying to talk yourself out of unhealthy decisions."
      Lauren Slayton, MS, RD, founder of Foodtrainers in NYC, agrees. "Having a tidy kitchen is stress-reducing, and having lower levels of stress hormones directly translates to more weight loss and less stress eating," she says. "Plus, who wants to cook in a mess of a kitchen?" Kondo's goal: Helping you create a kitchen that makes cooking fun. We enlisted Slayton to explain how seven of Kondo's simple principles can help you find happiness in the kitchen and fewer pounds on the scale.

        1. Focus on ease of cleaning, not ease of use.

        After observing a restaurant kitchen, Kondo realized the kitchen was designed so the chefs could easily clean as they cooked, instead of creating a massive pileup of dirty dishes and counters. There was no time-consuming cleanup at the end of their shift — they just had to do one final wipe of the counters. "If you want a kitchen that you can enjoy cooking in, aim for one that's easy to clean," she writes.
        Slayton points out that we're more likely to want to be in a space when it's orderly. "Piles and clutter send us the message that we're not doing what we should be and, frankly, leave less physical space for working, cooking, and whatever else you want to do," she says. "But cleanliness and tidiness are examples of self-care. It's not just about cleaning up — it's about the positive repercussions from doing so." Think of organizing your kitchen as the equivalent of getting a massage. You're more likely to feel taken care of and, as a result, more likely to treat your body better by fueling up with good-for-you eats.

        2. Keep your counters as clean and clear as possible.

        "Put nothing on the counters or around the sink and stove top," Kondo writes. "You will be amazed at how easy your kitchen is to use if you design your storage with this aim in mind." If you're in a teeny-tiny kitchen where your counter space is a precious commodity, it's OK to keep some things on the counter so long as they're away from the oil or water splash zones.
        Ever hear the old adage "out of sight, out of mind?" It applies here. If you can see food, you're more likely to eat it. "If you want to eat less toast, don't keep the toaster out where you can see it," Slayton says. "On the flipside, if you're motivated to make smoothies, keep the [blender] ready and visible on the counter." She keeps a fruit bowl on her counter because it's colorful and inviting and it makes her smile — and then she's more likely to grab an easy-to-reach piece of fruit than a brownie that's stashed in a cupboard. Be smart about storage, too.