Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Clean Counters = Healthy Habits

Clean Counters = A Stress-Free Kitchen = Making Healthier Food Choices

Welcome to my kitchen. It's tiny, what you see here is pretty much all the counter space I have. No fancy island. No dish washer. Very little counter space. Very little storage. But here in the above picture, that counter space is actually clean & uncluttered (well, uncluttered for us!) The dishes are washed and put up. The counters have been spritzed & wiped with cleaner. I have my lunch for tomorrow prepped and waiting for the main ingredient to come out of the oven. This for me is a stress free and much healthier kitchen.

Crumbs gone. Food put away. A clean kitchen offers a lot of opportunities for creativity. It means I don't have to do dishes when I get home. It means I have to discipline myself every evening to take 20-30 minutes to wash the dishes, put them away. So far this week I've managed this 4 nights in a row. Seriously that's a record. I think I've managed doing this an entire week before... but it's never been a habit I've kept up. Normally my kitchen looks like this so my goal this week has been to keep my counters clean. Not only to wash the dishes, but put them up as well. Put things away. It's not that I'm a slob, or a really messy person... it's because life is busy and clean counters aren't always at the top of my priority list.

Yet it makes sense to me that keeping my counters clean will not only make life easier for me every day when I get home from work... but it gives me a clean, fresh space to cook when I get home. All my utensils are clean, I have plenty of room to work, so I really don't have a good excuse not to make a healthy meal.

More often than not, it's when the counters are dirty that we resort to going out to eat or ordering take out. When the counters are dirty, I look at my tiny kitchen and sigh. I don't feel creative. I just want to turn and run. Spaces that are stressful make me anxious, yet it's all too easy for me to fall into the habit of a not keeping up with my dishes.

Since I'm working on learning how to eat well, learning how to read my body/hunger signals (Am I really hungry? Am I satisfied? Do I really just need something to drink? See this post), I figured this was a good time to start practicing other healthy habits.

Michael gave me this "waving kitty" at Christmas for the kitchen and I love it. 
It matches nothing else in my kitchen and I'm perfectly okay with that!

What healthy habits would you like to start? How have you made healthy habits permanent in your life? Do you feel like having a clean kitchen makes a difference in cooking healthy meals? Share your thoughts!

Pin It!


  1. Carrie,

    Thanks for the post on clean counters. You're right, such a small, simple thing can really make a big difference,especially on those days when everything is overwhelming. I am working on being healthier myself this year, and this is another tip to use. Not only are the counters sparkling, there are a lot less places for bacteria to grow and excuses to flourish for not cooking healthy.

  2. I'm with you chica! I love when I take the time after a night of cooking to actually clean it all up. I think that will have to become one of my goals as well. :) Thanks for sharing! Positive vibes...

  3. I, too, have a tiny kitchen. I started keeping everything clean and tidy about 6 mos ago and it's really made a difference in the way I eat and my attitude in general. It's so nice to come home to a clean kitchen. Thanks for your post.

  4. From Esther -
    I'm completely with you on the clear kitchen idea, I'm also committing to keeping my kitchen clearer this years for several years and I've decided to stop hassling himself to wash up and then stew about it when he does it on his timescale (just before the next meal) rather than mine (straight after the meal) and just do it myself and hope the clear kitchen has a positive effect on him to as I know he dislikes clutter!

    My other main commitment is to actually manage to plant up the allotment at the right time this year not be too late for half the things to grow well !

    Also to keep trying more variety particularly in veg and dried beans etc even if my eldest would like to have the same thing day in and day out. Everyone now and then he surprises me and he has such a clear sensitive pallet I want him to experience as much as possible.

  5. AHHHH!! I love it Carrie, I am the exact same way! Clutter = Anxiety (it messes with my ADD and I quickly try to shut everything out by running the other direction, LOL!

    For this year I am definitely working on my time management skills (in serious need of improvement, I'm late for EVERYTHING!). I used to be really good at this before I had kids and a specialized diet to consider (on time used to mean 10 minutes early) but now, if I'm "only" 30 minutes late, we consider that a good day, LOL!

    I love these self improvement posts, maybe I should do one too, just for accountability sake!


  6. Heidi -- THANK you so much doll!! Self-improvement posts! I LOVE IT! I couldn't think of a good name for them, I was thinking honesty posts... but I like self-improvement! It means things are improving! :-) Thank you so much for your comment! Love you tons girl!

  7. Just did a little post about my resolutions for this year, happy to see others are too! And you are so right about the kitchen... we need a clean counter club! I'm guilty of letting dishes go for DAYS (no dishwasher either) and then I'm irritated when they are piled up. *sigh*

    I keep my cool-crafty list of resolutions on my dresser, so each morning I am seeing them, mentally making checks, thinking about what I need to do next. So far, so good.

    My most exciting is to actually finish the Couch to 5K this year, and then run a 5K. I'm into week three, 6 more weeks to go, and we are doing our Team Gluten Free 5K in May this year and I'm going to RUN it!

    But there are fun ones too: send snail mail at least once a week, yoga at least once a week, finish a sewing project and get my blog organized.

    We can keep each other in check!

    Great post Carrie, thanks for sharing!

  8. cleaning up after dinner makes creating a healthy breakfast the next morning so much's also great to see your kitchen! Mine is tiny too...I'll have to post pictures of it!

  9. You are so right on the money, a clean kitchen=happy and healthy me. When I take the extra couple of minutes to dry the pots and pans (thankfully the rest of the dishes do go in the dishwasher) but when I take that time I come down at 5:45 the next morning and I smile. I literally smile. My nemesis is my kitchen island counter. I clean sprouts clutter. I clean it sprouts more clutter. And when that island is cluttered I'm so anxious.

  10. I can really relate to this! When we bought this house about 14 mos ago I loved the island and the counters -- which quickly filled up with "stuff" and makes me crazed as it's a dumping ground. I bought 2 bar stools - then went back to buy 2 more and they are discontinued and can't find suitable near-matching ones so we never sit there. I traded the recessed lights for faux pendants and hate the "shades" I picked out. Once my kitchen is straight -- the rest will follow (or so I keep telling myself)

  11. Having just read this and your previous post (your blog's been in my news feed for awhile though I don't think I've commented prior to today) I get the feeling that Meghan's 21 Days to Health is affecting your entire life too! Or should that be "INfecting"?
    (Last week I blogged about the little ways it was affecting mine.)

  12. It's funny - over the years, I've learned that I crave that cleanliness in my home. (especially in the kitchen, where I spend a LOT of my time!) Uncluttered means creativity - you're right. It relaxes you. Invites you. I can remember coming home before to a very cluttered house, and I didn't want to do anything in it. (just turn around and run, as you said) Now, clean house = clean mind. I can think. I can do. I can just be, if I choose, and be peaceful. So yes, this means I have to do way too many dishes!

  13. Ok so your kitchen looks almost like mine - very similar layout, lack of counterspace, same amount of cabinets, etc., but thankfully I have a dishwasher. Part of the reason I officially became The Messy Chef is because of my tiny kitchen. I'm trying to get a lot more disciplined in the kitchen cleanup for 2011 - for the sake of my sanity and marriage.