The Junk Drawer

One of my favorite things about being a trainer is learning new things from my clients. It often feels like I learn more from them than they learn from me (which is saying something because I know I teach a lot!)

A client asked me to help him sort through the kitchen, to help organize foods based on when they could be eaten. We created a shelf in the pantry for “inside the window” foods and a section in the fridge for the same kinds of foods. I had taught this client that there are no “good” or “bad” foods, just good and bad times to eat certain foods. So, rather than throw it all away, we partitioned the kitchen in a way that foods wouldn’t tempt outside the window, but would still be able to find a great option when inside.

I’ve since run with that idea and recommended it to many clients, with one caveat: you must have the discipline to not go rummaging through said section when it’s not appropriate. Some say that “moderation is the key,” but that’s just not the case. Consistency is. What you do consistently will yield results. Consistently do the wrong things, and you’ll get the wrong results. Consistently do the right things, and you’ll get the right results you want.

So what are some strategies for making this work in your home? I personally don’t recommend it on the outset. The basic rule of thumb is that if it’s in your house, if it’s within reach, you will eat it. So if you have a trouble with self control (like me!) or you’re newly changing your lifestyle, make it easy on yourself and don’t have temptations lying around.

If you feel you can handle it, try these:

Have the right options easily accessible. You’ll eat whatever is in closest proximity and whatever offers the path of least resistance. Make the best choices the easiest to find.

Keep it out of sight. The point of a “junk drawer” is to keep things out of the way. Don’t put these foods in plain sight, or you will have to rely too much on self control to overcome the temptation. Use the bottom shelf in your fridge, ideally in the back, and use a cabinet you don’t frequently need or a shelf in the pantry that is out of immediate view.

Use the 30 minute rule. If you do find yourself falling short of the discipline to partition your food, use this method to help stave off the craving. Make a healthy choice with the caveat that if you still want the other item(s) you’ll do so after 30 minutes. Don’t sit around counting the clock - go make yourself busy (Did you workout yet today? Do that and then come back!)

It’s not the end of the world if you choose to eat something else, but the point is to set yourself up for success. We often eat more “bad” things than we give ourselves credit for. It’s always a good idea to keep a log of your food so you’re mindful of the choices you’re consistently making.

If you find you’re off course more than you want, or you’re not seeing results, it’s probably time to do away with the temptations for a while. Consider getting on board as a 5:17 client to gain the accountability and motivation you need to feel your best and achieve your dreams.

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