If you’ve ever looked through lists like “XX Books That Will Change Your Life,” or anything along those lines, you’ll probably find Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her big takeaway? Only keep things in your life that spark joy. If something doesn’t, get rid of it.
Although this mostly applies to physical belongings (one big example is clothes), we can bring more happiness into our lives by applying this same concept to what we eat. In essence, it will help promote mindful and intuitive eating.
For economics nerds, you can think of it this way: it’s like the law of diminishing marginal utility. The first bite you take of something is probably highly enjoyable. But as you eat more and more of it, the less enjoyable it is. The third donut is not as enjoyable as the first one, for sure.
But that doesn’t just apply to junk food or eating excess amounts of food. It can also apply to things like the “clean plate club.” How many times have you finished what’s on your plate just because you were told to as a child, or because it’s just there, even though you don’t really want it anymore?
It no longer sparks joy, so theoretically, you shouldn’t eat it.
No need to throw it away, just save it for later. Not only does that save you money and calories, if you count those, but it also enforces that everything in your life has a purpose.
I’m a huge culprit of it. Sometimes, I honestly am just too lazy to get up from the table, get a container, and store my leftovers. Yup.
This is what happened when a Well + Good writer “Marie Kondo’d” her diet for two weeks; basically, you learn that your body knows what it needs. It’s when we listen to our minds instead of our bodies, or ignore our body’s signals, that we get into trouble.
So, how exactly do you “Marie Kondo” your diet? I’ll go on this journey with you. Let’s being.
1. Get Rid of Anything You’re “Meh” About
Sometimes our pantries are filled with food that we either were given or bought that we don’t love. If it’s been sitting there awhile, either toss it (chances are that it’s going bad anyway) or give it to a friend/family member (everyone loves free food). Decluttering is important!
2. Create a Space for Joy
How many of us eat while we work? Or eat while we watch TV? Mindless eating brings you less joy because your brain is focused on something other than the food. Creating an environment where it’s just you and your food is important. Tip? Style your plate so that it’s pretty (a tip I learned from being a food Instagrammer) and it will bring you more joy.
3. Ask Yourself, “Does This Bring Me Joy?” Before Each Bite
It’s a similar to concept to putting down your fork between bites, or chewing X amount of times — it forces you to slow down. But this takes it one step further. By asking yourself this question, you keep yourself accountable.
4. If Something Truly Brings You Joy, Don’t Feel Guilty About It
Sometimes what brings you joy is a big salad full of rainbow veggies, and sometimes it’s a big piece of dark chocolate or a peanut butter cup on top of some ice cream. Neither is bad. Whatever brings you joy, do it. You’ll learn that you will find moderation here — if you follow the first three rules, you won’t go overboard on anything.
5. Know That It’s Easier Said Than Done
Like any set of rules, it’s easy to lay them out and hard to follow. Take it step by step (in this order), and if you find yourself eating mass amounts of things that don’t bring you joy, that’s OK. Life’s short — some say it’s too short to do things that don’t bring you joy — but I say that it’s too short to beat yourself up about whether or not your diet or life is “perfect” and “how you want it to be.”