Organizing your kitchen—from the pantry to the countertops and refrigerator—helps you lose the clutter. But it also can help you lose weight, experts say.

Clearing out the kitchen clutter changes your eating environment, according to Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab. This approach, known as “slim by design,” works more effectively than trying to lose weight through sheer willpower.


The Eyes Have It

Small changes can make a dramatic difference. After professional organizer Hazel Thornton helped a client organize her kitchen, the client was able to lose 30 pounds. A key lies in keeping healthy foods out in the open and attractively displayed, and keeping indulgent snacks and treats out of sight.

“You can use the same principles grocery stores use to display their most expensive items at eye level [making them more likely to catch the customer’s attention] by storing healthy foods in your home at eye level,” Thornton said.

Put healthy snacks on your handiest refrigerator shelf in clear containers. In opaque containers, store the more indulgent snacks high on a pantry shelf near the ceiling or low on a shelf near the floor.

“People struggle with organization in the kitchen because they do not think enough about the ergonomics of the space and how they want things to function,” professional organizer Amanda LeBlanc said. “For individuals who want to lose weight, organizing the kitchen is a key to making this possible.”

A disorganized kitchen makes cooking a hassle, especially for busy people with limited time. In turn, that makes it easier to lean on high-calorie fast food in a pinch. “Having a place for everything and knowing where it is helps make cooking more fun,” LeBlanc said.

Kitchen-Organizing Tips

Thornton and LeBlanc offer these four kitchen-organizing tips to enable you to eat better.

1. Portion Out Snacks.

If you buy snacks and other treats in bulk, measure or weigh portions into snack-size baggies as soon as you return from the store.

2. Stock Your Kitchen.

Although this may sound counterintuitive if you’re trying to lose weight, keeping plenty of healthy foods on hand makes it less likely that you’ll be tempted to pick up fast food on the way home.

3. Keep Measuring Tools Handy.

Leaving measuring cups, measuring spoons and scales on the counter reminds you to weigh and portion your food so you can keep track of how much you’re eating.

4. Update Storage Containers.

Food storage containers need to be easy to use, easy to clean and easy to store. If yours are not, replace them.

Use clear canisters for pastas, nuts and granola to help them stay fresh and give them more visual appeal.

Empty boxes of healthy snacks into baskets. This lets you quickly see and grab the right snacks when you’re on the go.


Making Healthier Choices

Registered dietitian Amy Goodson, a sports nutritionist for the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, said: “Many times people don’t choose healthy items because they can’t find them and don’t even know they are in the pantry. Keeping organized helps you spot items quicker and hopefully helps you make healthier choices.”

Goodson offers these six tips:

  • Get rid of old food. This will help you toss some of the less-healthy processed food in your pantry.
  • Make fresh food readily available by setting a basket of fruit on your counter, and by washing fruits and vegetables and storing them in airtight containers in your refrigerator.
  • In the pantry, use small baskets or plastic containers to organize small items. Designate a basket for protein bars, and another for small snack foods like granola bars, packs of peanut butter crackers and bags of nuts.
  • Organize your shelves by type of food. Set up a shelf for whole grains like cereal, oatmeal, crackers, rice and pasta. Then pick a shelf for items like seasoning, spices, peanut butter and cans of soup.
  • Use labels or stickers to identify what’s on each shelf.
  • Put together a list of healthy snacks and other items, and post it on your refrigerator or in your pantry to remind you about making healthier food choices.