Marie Kondo; The Diet Edition... And The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up Your Diet And Approach To Food
I was recently asked for my best tips to saving money while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. My immediate reaction is that I’m not the right person to ask, as I’ll happily devote a bigger portion of my earnings towards my health - it’s invaluable to me and a non-negotiable so I’d never put saving money above my health.
For me, I have no mental health without my health and after experiencing times of my life where depression took over, I will do everything in my power to avoid ever going back there. I like to wake up every day happy to be alive and excited for the day ahead and this is something I don’t take for granted. I’d much sooner give up new clothes, makeup, and even travelling than I will limit the things that allow me to wake up every day happy. And please know I am highly aware of how lucky I am to be in a position where I can afford to pay for things like yoga memberships and healthy organic food, and I understand not everyone has this, but I like to be open about my thoughts and experiences without feeling the need to cover up anything. And this is my truth.
But there is something I do want to discuss that I think will help those looking to save money, albeit I practice this not to save money but instead to feel mentally well. This phenomenon is essentially approaching your food and diet with a minimalist mindset. And before you jump to “wait so you just eat as little as possible”, please read on as this is certainly not what I’m talking about - I love food haha!
The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up Your Diet And Approach To Food
Unless you have been living under a rock, you surely know Marie Kondo and her imminent world domination by de-cluttering. A horrendous overly simplified summary by me: get rid of random crap and only keep things that spark joy - whatever those things are. Personally, de-cluttering belongings is something I excel in. I’ve always loved chucking stuff out and I’m not one of those people that feels the need to hang on to random things I haven’t thought about in years just in case one day I may need it.
My mental health is severely affected by my surroundings and I cannot deal with too much stuff. In fact even overly stuffed and unorganised fridges make me anxious (yes, really)… Actually large grocery shops too… You know when you see people at the supermarket with a trolley FULL of stuff, all I can think of it the amount that is going to get chucked out and I really hate looking at it.
Anyway, I’ll stop rambling as I could go on for ages about things that irk me… Toast crumbs in the butter when people dip a crumby knife in for the second time OMG GTFO. *Deep breaths* Moving on…
After reading Marie Kondo’s book years and years ago, and learning more about the philosophy of minimalism - which is really a mental approach more than it is a certain amount of things that you own - like everything in life, I had to apply the philosophy to my diet and approach to food. Life-changing. The book title was not lying.
So what did I change?
First was stripping back all the random “products” that I would buy just because they were exciting but were things I could either make on my own, or I was merely just falling for marketing thinking I needed it. Things like flavoured grain-free crackers, salad toppers, nut-cheeses, loads of random supplement powders that I never used, random flavoured nut butters, little chocolates, basically anything that came ready to eat in a packet - yes even if it was gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, all the free’s.
What I ended up with was staples and products I actually used every day; fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables (the bulk of my diet anyway), proteins (canned fish, fresh meat, eggs, hemp protein) and the other things I use daily - nuts, seeds, coconut milk, coconut cream, butter, ghee and oils mainly coconut and olive, and of course salt, pepper, spices, tea and coffee.
Honestly I could live off the above list and majority of my meals are made of these things. From there I decided on some extras I refuse to live without (remember, minimalism isn’t about deprivation, it’s about everything having a purpose and everything being there for a reason).
For me these things were tahini, dark chocolate, good quality cheeses, some supplement powders I like to take (and all for specific reasons, not just “because”).
Please note this excludes my baking/ dessert cupboard staples. I can go into those in another post but for the purposes of this post I didn’t include them because I know not everyone bakes as much as I do and they aren’t things I consume daily.
You can see that so far, I’ve got two tiers of my pantry/ fridge - first is the staples, second is the spark joy stuff that I like to consume daily. Then there’s the third tier - the fun stuff that I absolutely don’t need but like to purchase every now and then, this is often the more expensive, fancy stuff that will get the cull if I’m having a week where I’m trying to spend less, but also the stuff I’m happy to splurge on when I feel like it. These are things like vegan ice creams (hello Yum Bars), nut cheeses (macadamia feta is my jam), grain-free pizza bases and bread loafs (No Grainer are my fave), sauces like Undivided Food Co. tomato sauce, drinks like kefirs and kombuchas, and Loving Earth chocolates (salted caramel yes).
Not just what I buy but also how I buy…
I also shop in very small doses which really helps my fear of large amounts of food haha. I buy about 2 to 3 days worth of groceries at a time, and I have a massive fridge so it looks pretty empty… I like it this way. I totally get that I’m in a different situation to most, given that I don’t live with my parents, I’m not sharing a fridge with 6 people (been there!) and also I don’t have kids or a partner to feed. But this is just the truth of my situation. This also gives me the freedom to eat out (which I love doing regularly) without worrying that I have a heap of food in the fridge that’s going to go off.
Bonus… Food waste is not a thing for me so this ends up being very sustainable (watch Just Eat It if you’re interested in food waste and environmentalism). Every single drop, crumb, stem and leaf gets eaten.
But also… How I eat
That’s how I shop and store food… But there’s more. I’ve also applied the minimalist approach to how I eat, my food routine and what I chose to eat on a daily basis.
Let me paint a picture for you because I know I’ve been there before and I’m sure many of you can relate.
You go to a cool hipster cafe, and you feel like while you’re there you have to order the coolest most instagrammable thing on the menu, you also have to order some cool cold-pressed juice and some coconut-cacao-turmeric-beetroot-rainbow latte. While these meals can be a bit of fun, the reality is I don’t feel the best after them and not something I try to consume on a daily basis - they are more third tier fun stuff I like to indulge in on the weekend.
After reading Kondo’s book I realised that just because I was at that cafe didn’t mean I had to “make the most if it” by ordering everything cool on the menu and in the cabinet. The cafe wasn’t going anywhere, the cool food wasn’t going anywhere and if at any point I was craving their gluten-free, paleo pancakes with coconut yoghurt and grain-free granola there was nothing stopping me from meeting a friend for brunch there and ordering it.
I started tuning into my centre more and ordering what I actually wanted to eat - simply tasty food - scrambled eggs, sautéed greens, avo and goat’s cheese with an almond latte or a green tea as an example. I saved the fun food (not to imply the other food isn’t fun but you get my point) for when I really wanted it - and honestly, it tastes so much better when you really want it instead of just ordering it because you feel like you have to. And I still do this on the reg! Some days I really really want Loco Love Chocolates, or Nutie Donuts or the paleo toast at my local health food cafe, and I just go and eat those things, sit down and really enjoy them - they will always be there!
This goes for daily treats too. Every day I either have dark chocolate or one of my fat fudges. I’ll munch on a square or two of these fudges as my #lunchdessert almost every day. Being high in fat, they help with satiety and staying full until dinner. For some reason I find coconut oil, being a saturated fat, to have more of an effect on my appetite than other unsaturated fats (like olive oil, avocado, nuts – which I love too!). Since I’ve stopped snacking (which by the way has done wonders for my digestion), I use these fudges as a little tool to make it easy to get through to dinner without my energy crashing or experiencing those dreaded hunger pains.
Perhaps my favourite thing about having a little healthy low-sugar treat every day is that when someone offers me some kind of sugar-filled junk food, I have no desire to eat it! Read: I like my treats simple and minimal and don’t feel the need to buy the latest crazy (and often pricey) health food treat when I’m out and about.
There’s still more… snacking.
Before I get into this, I must preface by mentioning snacks aren’t a bad thing, the really help some people to stop bingeing and can be great for super active people, but they don’t work for me. I practice intermittent fasting (well my version of it) and I eat meals (either 2 or 3 per day) and don’t snack. Mentally… What a relief! I can’t tell you how good it is just thinking about my two or three meals a day and not worrying about getting hungry or low in energy or having to eat every few hours.
This is the third way I’ve implemented minimalism into my diet and food routine. Every time I eat, I want to eat and I sit down and enjoy it. There is no mindless overeating or eating things just because they are there.
So what is the best thing for you to do…
Firstly read Marie Kondo’s book or at least watch the Netflix series and familiarise yourself with the mental principles of minimalism. Then de-clutter your diet, your mentality and your grocery shop. As someone who works in the industry I can tell you there are ONE TRILLION health products out there - some are BS, some are great, some may spark joy for you, some you think you need but you probably don’t, some you probably do need! This will look different for everyone, so figure out what that is for you. But what I do know for sure, probably over half the things you have or take you could get rid of and not notice.
Eat with intention and love, get centred before you eat and you’ll find sometimes that’s simply eating basic nourishing broccoli and eggs and avocado, and sometimes it’s buying the paleo French toast and Loving Earth’s latest chocolate flavour and really enjoying it mindfully. What it’s not is shoving down half the block of chocolate while you park your car, and text your cousin and think about what you’re wearing to tomorrow’s event. Get me?