Clutter and Chaos Makes You Fat

Lori Boxer
Weight★No★More℠ Diet Center


(c) caraman


In his excellent article, Declutter Your Desk to Declutter Your Mind, Brett Berhoff wrote about the clutter-mind connection.  In my line of work, I can say without question that physical clutter and chaos is directly linked to excessive weight.


Clutter and excessive weight make a perfect match for each other because they both represent an imbalance. Over the years, and as I work with clients over weeks or months at a time and get to know them very well, those living in cluttered homes or offices are struggling not only with the volume of stuff but also with their weight. Please understand: I’m not suggesting that all cluttered people are overweight. It’s not that simple. But my experience tells me that this connection is no coincidence. In some cases, one problem may encourage the other to develop.


Clutter leads to chaos. Chaos breeds sloppiness, and that sloppiness too often extends to one’s food habits and other areas of life. For those who struggle with weight, clutter and chaos is a sure recipe for weight gain because clutter, chaos and disorganization often represents loss of control. Feeling out of control is bad for one’s eating habits (or any bad habits we’re trying to change for the better).


I have some clients who, for example, often (and more than once) ask for copies of previously given paperwork:


  • They think they left it in the shopping cart at the supermarket,
  • They think they left it at a friend’s house;
  • They think they left it on the train . . . on the bus, at the hair salon, at the nail salon, at the gym, at the chiropractor, at their office, at someone else’s office, at the hospital when visiting a friend, at the book store, in a department store fitting room . . . and this is the short list!
  • They can’t find it in their car. (. . . which begs the question, Can you only imagine what the inside of their car looks like?)


They consistently arrive late for appointments: They will literally rush in, breathless, harried and stressed because they are late . . . and then more stressed because they know their late arrival means they won’t have enough time with me before my next client arrives. There are others who regularly, after leaving their appointments, come running back to the office because:


  • They think they left their sunglasses behind (but didn’t);
  • They can’t find car keys (but then find them);
  • They’re sure they left their cell phone in my office (but didn’t);
  • They do leave behind their paperwork (menus, diaries, recipes, etc.).


I’ve also gathered up left-behind (and oftentimes unclaimed!) belts, earrings and watches, brushes and combs, sweaters and jackets . . . and these are never the clients that are consistently focused on their goal, doing well and regularly losing weight.


I also think other factors fuel the growth of clutter and body fat at the same time. If a person is out of shape, they might become too easily fatigued to tackle a big de-cluttering project. If someone feels like they never have the time or energy to make substantial improvements to their home or at their place of work, the best they can seem to do is shift around piles of clutter. They then lie awake at night stressed, and of course start the next day already tired . . . and eating emotionally all day: Food is a distraction from the organizational tasks they’re avoiding.


Disorganization in the kitchen can be especially problematic for overweight people. Cluttered kitchens can cause stress, which makes many more likely to grab a fattening snack. If they are feeling crummy about the state of their kitchen, how can a cookie or two make them feel any worse?


Think of cleaning your kitchen (home and office) as a cleanse. In his book, Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat, professional organizer, Peter Walsh, writes about the clutter and fat connection: To begin to un-clutter, begin in the kitchen:


  1. Are your kitchen cabinets overstuffed with never used items and outdated food? Clean out your pantry: Dispose food that has expired AND that you shouldn’t be eating, and donate food that was bought and never used to a local food pantry.
  2. When was the last time you cleaned out your refrigerator? Clean out your refrigerator; get rid of anything expired AND that you know you shouldn’t be eating. You can also hire a local service to come and help you clean your home.
  3. Are there dirty dishes in the sink? Wash them, and make it a habit to never leave any dirty dishes in the sink.
  4. Are there newspapers or other items strewn about on the counter tops? Get rid of them. Clear off your counter tops. They are for preparing food?not for loose papers, keys, sunglasses and unopened mail.
  5. Do you have kitchen items, gadgets and tchotchke you no longer use that are taking up valuable space in your kitchen? Do you really need three ice cream scoopers, 4 spatulas and 2 hard boiled egg slicers? Clean out every kitchen drawer, and don’t keep duplicates and triplicates of these (or any) items.
  6. Last, and very important, plan your meals and shop for them weekly. This will prevent overbuying (and the repeat of clutter).


I often ask clients to think of cleaning their kitchen (and/or home and office) as a “cleanse.” Not only have I given that assignment, but I’ve asked clients to take it as seriously as the weight loss program. I’ve heard time and again from them that when they cleaned up their environments, being disciplined with their eating habits was easier.


Dishevelment, disorganization, clutter and chaos aren’t simply a space problem. Those things, as does weight gain and obesity, have more to do with what’s going on between your ears!


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