What’s in your kitchen? Are you a healthy eater with a healthy kitchen? Are you a person who knows you could use a kitchen makeover? I’m not talking about renovating your kitchen, I am talking about cleaning out your pantry and your fridge. Take a good look around your kitchen. Does your kitchen environment support your goals, values and priorities? Our environments can affect us without knowing so it is a good idea to start with small productive changes that can help shape your path to a healthier lifestyle. A good place to start is your kitchen.
Before you jump in and throw everything away, you have to be ready. You should have an open mind and a plan of action. For those who have no idea where to start, hiring a nutrition expert is a good idea. They can help you develop a plan of action. The first step is to create a wish list on what to keep, what to throw away, what to add and why. In addition to this, a wish list of gadgets that you would like that will make healthy eating easier. Take a look at your food prep area and see if there are any changes that can be made that will make food prep easier. This is where the list of gadgets comes into play. Consider adding a blender, food scale, slow cooker, a couple measuring cups, storage containers, cutting boards and sharp knives.
Have your garbage bag, compost bag and recycle bin ready, it’s time to clean out your kitchen! Start with food triggers and expired food. If there are certain foods that trigger unhealthy behavior get them out of easy reach or throw them away. Out of sight, out of mind, although for some these triggers must be gone completely. Expired food should be disposed of. A good mental note of expired food is that you know you probably won’t use that product as much so it is the least likely to be added back into your pantry or fridge. Read labels. This is where an expert could help you if you are uncertain. As you go through your pantry and fridge, identify ingredients you know and how many are actually listed on the product. If you find ingredient lists that are like small paragraphs and words you can’t even pronounce, that would be a red flag and you should note that these products are most likely processed. Even if they say “natural”, “low carb” “gluten free” this doesn’t mean that the product is better for you.
Based on what you find in your pantry and fridge, decide on whether these foods you’ve evaluated are worth keeping.
Once you have eliminated triggers and foods with less nutrient value, you can now negotiate what you are willing to keep with modifications, decide what would be an effective compromise for others in your household. Maybe you need to arrange things so everyone is happy. Ask yourself what you need, what do others need. This may stump you at first, but really think about it. Ask yourself how you can balance all those things while still staying on track to support your own values, goals and priorities. Whatever you decide, choose with purpose and awareness.
Negotiate with a couple things in mind. Is there a way to upgrade familiar favorites to healthier versions? Can you make salad dressings, salsa, granola bars, pasta sauces, marinades and soups from scratch? Can you make cakes, cookies, muffins from scratch and with healthier recipes? Will having small amounts of less healthy food like store bought dressings and condiments make it easier for you to eat more nutrient dense food like salad? If yes, then consider keeping those is small amounts. Can you place food that you consider to be “trigger” out of sight and hard to reach but there for those that do not suffer the trigger or unhealthy behavior? Can you all agree to keep treats that you consume in moderation and don’t consider to be triggers? Example if your husband likes chips but you don’t really care for them? I think that would be a win for everyone!
Now that you have negotiated and you have eliminated what you wanted, it’s time to restock your kitchen. You want to try to restock your kitchen with food everyone enjoys but also focus on nutrient dense food. Think 80-20. 80% of your food stocked in your kitchen should be nutrient dense while 20% can be less nutrient dense. Super foods like dark green leafy vegetables, vegetables, fruit, legumes, rice, poultry, fish, beef, eggs, egg whites, diary, almond milk, nuts, seeds, seafood are all great examples. Think about the grocery store and sticking to the outside isles first. Then you can add some pre-packaged foods. These are the types of foods that are included in the 20% less nutrient dense food.
Once you are done, take a good look at your kitchen. You should see a good variety of healthy foods. If you feel you made good choices, choices that you are aware of and have purpose then your kitchen makeover is something to be proud of!