January 28, 2019

Does This Food Spark Joy?

Taking Marie Kondo to the Grocery Store

Here’s a weird paradox. When you start a diet plan, be it, low carb, low fat, Weight Watchers, paleo, Whole 30, keto, whatever, you name it. You go to the grocery store and buy massive quantities of whatever the plan calls for.

Most diet books instruct you to clean your kitchen pantry! Get rid of temptation or the bad stuff or whatever you’re not supposed to be eating. Replace it with whatever the health guru of the moment swears by!

I am conditioned to do this. I’ve done it so many times I can’t count. Picture it, I’m trying to reduce my size, and I immediately go spend three times my normal grocery budget on three times the normal amount of weekly food. Something about that seems off. Adding more to subtract. With intermittent fasting there is no list!

Four days into my fasting lifestyle, and have to admit, I was utterly confused about what food to buy. There was no list of foods you need to have to succeed. Plus, I’ve always needed some “free” food in previous diets. I needed unlimited carrots or apples or almonds or bacon (thanks Dr. Atkins!) But this way of eating meant I just wasn’t able to eat all that food.

I decided to take the Marie Kondo Method to the grocery store. What foods spark joy? What meals bring my family together? What recipes put a smile on my face when I’m cooking? If I am only eating in a certain window of time, what do I want to let inside that window? I found smaller quantities of higher quality foods made their way into my grocery store cart.

Free reign to buy what I liked, without a diet guru admonishing me about what was bad or good? That was new. I took a slow roll down each aisle, all the while asking, how does this food make me feel? Do I like the taste? If I am only eating once a day? What would I enjoy? I looked at the apples. I don’t need a bag, maybe I need three? We don’t need a new loaf of bread, there’s a loaf of bread at home I’m never going to finish. It was luxurious and minimalist at the same time.


Just to be clear, I know the difference between fuel and garbage. I know what foods “agree” with me, what nutrients fuel me. Fruit, veggies, lean meats, whole grains, and chocolate in non-bulk quantities passed Marie Kondo’s spark joy test.

I actually did open the pantry and begin to clean it out. I want each item I keep to be something that nourishes either our bodies or our souls. We are blessed with an abundance, and it’s time to donate all over abundance to a community food pantry.

While Marie Kondo has her spark joy mantra, an old family phrase popped into my head as I looked in the pantry, and as I grocery shopped, “elegant sufficiency.” It’s all anyone needs to be truly happy. Not more. That’s my goal now, in food, and really in life. To pair down to an elegant sufficiency.

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