Julie Whittington, RD

Healthy tips from a Registered Dietitian

A kitchen food makeover for a fresh start to your New Year

The time has arrived for a kitchen food makeover!  The new year presents an opportunity to start fresh – and what better way to do so than to clean up, organize and re-stock your household food supply?  It is great incentive to keeping your health a priority in the new year and years to come.
Food provides us with nourishment.  So, we should seek to feed our bodies well.  Besides, who wants to open the fridge and find moldy food or leaking containers?  If the food is fresh and clean, you have a better chance of staying on track, keeping yourself organized and remaining positive about your wellness plan.  The minute you stop taking care of your nourishment, your whole health suffers.  In order to avoid getting off track, perhaps you wish to set a goal to keep the food options appealing, fresh and organized…for, it can give you a much better chance of success with eating well and sustaining health.

Here are some ideas to get your kitchen food makeover going in the right direction:

  • First, take inventory of your current foods in the pantry, fridge and freezer.  If anything has expired, throw it away.
  • Clean and sterilize the food shelves to ensure no pests and to improve the way your food storage systems look.  If they are untidy, it can be difficult to find items, encourage mindless unhealthy eating (not paying attention to the way food tastes or choosing foods for the wrong reasons), encourage eating of pre-packaged highly processed foods instead of whole, fresh foods (in order to avoid spoilage, etc.) and other things that can sabotage health.
  • Decide if you stock any food that serves as a trigger.  Is there a box of snack cakes you keep just in case you have a bad day?  Or, are there gallons and gallons of ice cream calling to you from the garage freezer?  Are you hoarding food simply as a result of stocking up when you find a good deal in the sales ads?  If there is a food (or quantity of food) that triggers disordered eating (such as bingeing or even restricting if the sight of excess food is a turn-off) in any way, throw it or give it away.  You could even donate unwanted, unopened food to a local shelter.
  • Aim to replace highly processed foods with more natural ones.  Are there multicolored kids yogurts in your fridge?  What about refined, white flour crackers?  Boxes of cookies or pastries?  Read the food labels and see if there are unwanted ingredients in the foods you are eating.  Things to limit for a healthful diet include: high sodium/salt levels, artificial colors & flavors, high fructose corn syrup or added sugars and refined carbohydrates.  Instead, look for whole, natural foods such as whole grain natural bread/rice/cereal/quinoa and other grains, whole fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen), beans, fish, nuts and organic dairy or dairy alternatives.  If you purchase animal proteins, opt for natural versions without a lot of added sodium, hormones, antibiotics and fillers, if possible.
  • Look at your fluid options.  Aim to replace sodas (artificial or regular) with more healthful beverages.  Be mindful about alcohol and whether it has a place in a healthy plan for you.  Limit caffeine to no more than 1-2 servings per day – so consider where you get it each day.  Are there fruit drinks in the fridge for the kids?  If so, switch to 100% juice.  Perhaps you wish to invest in a juicer to get more out of the fruits and vegetables you need daily.  However, only small amounts of juice are needed daily.  How many sports drinks are in there, too?  Only use sports drinks to supplement intense sport or job duties (i.e. construction workers, etc.)  Most kids do not need them.

Best wishes in revamping your kitchen.  Not only will it help you feel better, but it will also improve your outlook of success and help to eliminate food costs on unhealthy, unneeded foods!

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