Improve Your Daily Energy By Cleaning Your Fridge
The click-and-fizz noise of a Diet Coke can opening was the soundtrack of my childhood. My mom used to drink around 6–8 cans a day even while she was a high school health teacher (and knew the adverse health effects).
Oftentimes, our making unhealthy decisions isn’t for a lack of knowledge. We know what we should do to stay healthy and energized, but it’s a far cry from what we actually do.
As for me, I knew I felt sluggish because I was skipping meals and eating nothing remotely green. That wasn’t a revelation.
But what kept me from doing what I knew was good for me? The simple answer is that I needed to eat better. But why was that so hard?
Now I know that my lack of healthy eating wasn’t just a lack of willpower. In fact, there was a tangible step missing in between my intention to eat healthy and my actions. And that missing step was actually a pretty basic foundational habit.
What is a Foundational Habit?
First of all, willpower is fickle. With any habit I want to set, I know I have to think of ways to make it possible for my laziest self to accomplish. And a foundational habit is what makes other habits more accessible.
My mom was able to quit her Diet Coke habit by swapping soda cans for glasses of iced tea. The foundational habit she set was always keeping a pitcher of tea prepared in the fridge. In other words, a better choice was always at the ready.
For me, I first had to pinpoint why my healthy eating habit was shaky at best. I needed to look beyond the surface. And when I did, I realized the habit I was struggling to form was deeply tied to the state of my fridge.
When Your Fridge is a Mess, Nothing Looks Appetizing
Clutter and disorder in general can leave us vulnerable to making unhealthy food choices. Having too much clutter packed into the fridge restricts the air flow that keeps the food cold, fresh, and appetizing. A messy fridge also increases spoilage bacteria, which can grow even at cold temperatures and cause your produce to deteriorate faster.
From experience, I am far less interested in those dark, leafy greens when they are wilted or if I open the fridge door to unpleasant odors.
Ultimately, in order to consistently eat fresh, I have to see (and smell) freshness. Therefore, the step between my intention and my action is a little bit of elbow grease.
The Behind-The-Scenes Work
Besides having delicious, high quality ingredients, a tidy fridge can make it far more appealing to put together a healthy meal at home. But according to the Wall Street Journal, a majority of Americans clean their fridges only once or twice a year.
Admittedly, I was one of the majority, but I’ve decided to change that.
Recently, I’ve created mindset where I think of myself as two different people: there’s the Katie living the highlight reel of my life, and then there’s the Katie in the background making it happen.
Part of my highlight reel is enjoying fresh chicken salads on Monday nights with my partner. The behind-the-scenes work is spending an hour on Sunday soaking fridge shelves and wiping gunk from the cavity. The regular maintenance is cleaning up spills as soon as they happen.
One Sunday several months ago, I watched Youtube videos of people cleaning and organizing their fridges to low-fi beats. Then I read various tips about storing dairy products or different kinds of produce in order to optimize freshness. Finally, I blocked off an hour from my schedule and simply cleaned my fridge.
Having Good Energy is Rather Chemical
Since then, I’ve noticed my day-to-day energy levels have improved. Even my migraines have been fewer and far between. I’m eating a varied diet more consistently now that I maintain a clean and organized fridge.
When I wasn’t feeling energized, I could usually tie it back to my recent food choices. In short, your body needs certain minerals and vitamins to function optimally, and feeling sluggish could very well be tied to lack of minerals in your diet.
In fact, almost half of the U.S. population consumes less magnesium than they need and 10 million Americans are iron deficient. Both mineral deficiencies are linked to fatigue and poor mental performance. Not good.
Yet, for me, the habit of regularly eating mineral rich food first required a more foundational habit — that is, keeping that food fresh and organized in well-kept fridge.
Keeping my fridge clean used to be only a “nice to have” but I didn’t give it much effort. Now I’ve connected the dots backwards and realized that my fridge affects my diet, and my diet is directly connected to my daily energy levels. Being so, I’ve since reprioritized an orderly fridge because I now know it’s a foundational habit for having enough energy to achieve my bigger goals.
In the future, I’m sure I will have to continually revisit and redefine my habits; but as for now, a clean fridge is a crucial part of how I’m revitalizing my daily energy for better days ahead.