When it comes to getting the body you want, often times, what’s not talked about is how your kitchen environment can either support or sabotage your progress. It’s almost guaranteed that if there is junk food in the house, either you or someone in your household will eventually eat it.
When it comes to managing your weight, it’s unwise to leave temptations lying around the house and hope that willpower will save the day.
Imagine coming home from work, tired and hungry, and faced with snacking on either veggie sticks or a bag of chips. I think we all know the bag of chips is going down the hatch!
So let’s talk about how to foolproof your kitchen to support your health goals.
Kitchen Rescue Tips:
- Stop justifying why you need to keep the junk food. If you know the food or drink will not do your body good, then don’t even hesitate, just throw it away (or better yet, don’t buy it). There’s no need to justify with excuses such as “my kids/spouse likes eating these”, or “I hate to waste food”, or “I’ll just keep it around as emergency food”. Acknowledge that this is your saboteur talking. So, repeat after me, “my body is not a garbage can, I will not feed it garbage”.
2. Identify the junk food and relentlessly throw it out.
So what’s considered junk food? A good rule of thumb is, if it doesn’t look like it came from Mother Nature, it’s probably junk. Does it come in a box, plastic package or bag? Does it have more than two ingredients on the label? Do you know what those ingredients are/can you pronounce them? What’s the original form of this food - do you even know? Is the food perishable? Most food that’s good for you should be perishable (like veggies, fruits, meats, eggs).
Junk food and drink are manufactured to be convenient, highly palatable (tasty), yet does not provide you with a lot of nutritional value (if any). So you’re not getting your bang for your buck because you can overeat/drink and get very little good nutrition in return.
Here are some popular examples:
- Chips/flavoured popcorn/nachos
- Chocolates or candies
- Baked goods (cookies, cakes, muffins, pastries, etc)
- Most breads and bagels
- Instant foods (ramen, mashed potatoes, cake mixes, etc)
- Most frozen meals
- Granola/fruit/cereal bars
- Flavoured nuts (candied nuts)
- Sweetened yogourt
- Ice cream or sweetened frozen yogourt
- Sugary drinks (soda pop, fruit juices, energy drinks)
- Alcohol (particularly the sweetened mixed drinks)
Don’t forget these sneaky “foods” that may slip under our radar. Many store brands are full of sugar and chemicals. Such as:
- Salad dressings
- Condiments (sweetened ketchup, relish, mustard, BBQ sauce, etc)
- Processed meats (deli meats, hot dogs, bacon)
- Processed cheese/sweetened cream cheeses
- Sour cream
- Jams and spreads
- Margarine and other processed fats
- Croutons and bread crumbs
- Nut butters with added sugar
Always check the labels. Look for added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, and preservatives. Beware of marketing callouts such as “fat-free”, “low-fat”, “organic sugar” or “less sugar”. There is still added sugar!
If you recognize this list of so-called “foods and drinks” in your fridge, freezer, pantry, cupboards, cold room or anywhere else you stash food and drink, get your green bag out and start purging! Be relentless. This includes your car and workplace.
3. Don’t think of it as a kitchen clean-out, it’s a kitchen makeover.
Meaning, going through a kitchen rescue is not about deprivation. It’s about getting rid of junk, then ADDING plenty of health-promoting food.
Make it easy to eat healthily and difficult to eat unhealthily.
As the old saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind” - - I would even add “out of mouth”! The opposite is also true. If healthy food is visible and readily available, your chances of eating it will go up. Place a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter and ready-to-eat healthy snacks at eye level in the refrigerator.
4. Add in healthy foods.
Ok, now your kitchen has been decluttered of junk food. Ahhhh, doesn’t that feel good? Now, comes the fun part. You get to restock your kitchen and pantry with healthy food.
First, make a list of your/your family’s favourite:
- lean proteins (e.g. chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish, eggs, beans, tofu)
- vegetables (e.g. spinach, romaine, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, etc)
- fruits (e.g. berries, apples, grapefruit, pears, etc)
- whole grains (e.g. brown/wild rice, quinoa, oats, sprouted grain breads, etc)
- nuts and seeds (e.g. raw almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, natural nut butters, etc)
Second, go grocery shopping!
- shop off your list
- read labels - fewer ingredients the better (e.g. “almonds” in almond butter)
- try to buy seasonal produce as much as possible, but frozen is fine as well (e.g. frozen broccoli, green beans or peas)
- plan for your family to eat the healthy food as well - try and eliminate/minimize preparing “unhealthy” foods for your kids/spouse. If the food isn’t good enough for you, it shouldn’t be for them either.
Third, time to prep!
- when you get home, wash/peel/chop and store your veggies in airtight containers
- batch cook the lean proteins and whole grains and store in airtight containers
Do most of the heavy lifting all at once, so you have the food ready to go for at least 2-3 days. This will save you tons of time downstream. Weekday meals will become a lot less stressful.
In summary, your surrounding has a huge influence on your eating habits. Healthy people make it a priority to eat healthily, as well as ensuring that their environment (home, work, relationships) supports their healthy habits and goals.
If you want to take a bold step towards eating better and improving your health, try starting with a kitchen rescue. It’s a great way to instantly change your surroundings to support your new lifestyle!