Welcome to Spring!
This is the PERFECT time of the year to reset, and clean up some habits that may have crept in over the long dreary winter.
Today, the focus will be spring cleaning to create a Healthy Kitchen!
Of course you’ve heard that one of the BIGGEST keys to eating healthy starts with your environment.
It’s hard to eat a donut if it’s not in the house, right? Sure, you can run out and buy one, but that takes work.
When it’s staring you in the face, it’s a tough temptation to beat.
Are you ready? Okay, let’s go …
Part One - The Refrigerator
The heart of your kitchen. If you find something in your fridge that is on the "Purge this" list, then you know what you have to do. Get that garbage bag ready.
Purge this: Fatty meats. Be selective about the meats that you eat. We might say that that chicken is a great source of protein, but if you take that as a license to eat fried chicken then the benefit of the protein will be lost in all the extra highly saturated fat calories.
Replace with: Lean meats. Skinless chicken breast, lean ground turkey, tuna, white fish and seafood - there are numerous choices when it comes to lean meats.
Purge this: Fruit-flavored yogurt. Those cute individually packaged yogurt cups are going to do more harm to your waistline than you think. More than 50% of the calories in fruit-flavored yogurt come from sugar. Check out the ingredient list and you likely find both high fructose corn syrup AND sugar.
Replace with: Plain low-fat yogurt, Fage Greek yogurt, or low-fat cottage cheese. If you love yogurt, then get the low-fat plain version. You can mix in your own fresh fruit or granola. If you haven’t tried Fage, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how great it tastes (and how awesome it is for you). Another option is to have a scoop of low-fat cottage cheese with fruit on top.
Purge this: Rich dairy products. I know that cream cheese tastes amazing, but fat-filled dairy products are extremely high in calories and should not reside in your fridge. Eliminate high-fat cheese, milk and yogurt from your kitchen.
Replace with: Fresh Vegetables. The produce drawer in your fridge should be overflowing with colorful nutrient-rich veggies. In fact, your fridge should hold more veggies than the drawer can hold. Veggies are filled with fiber, vitamins and nutrients and are a REQUIREMENT for a healthy well-rounded diet. If you want some cheese, try some lower fat options, and/or limit the quantity ... and always opt for the harder cheeses over the softer ones. Switch from 2% milk to fat free and make sure your other dairy products are low in fat.
Purge this: Beverages with high fructose corn syrup or sugar. Drinking calories is one of the quickest ways to add body fat, so quickly rid your fridge of any beverage that lists HFCS or sugar on the ingredient list. And yes, even though 100% fresh squeezed orange juice doesn't contain HFCS, you should minimize your consumption of this as well (eat oranges instead - much better for calorie control, and getting the whole fruit benefit). The average American consumes 450 calories through beverages. The simple shift to calorie free beverages will result in nearly a pound of body fat lost PER WEEK. Imagine would could happen in 52 weeks!
Replace with: Water. Again, probably old news to you ... but the fact still remains that most people are dehydrated, a condition that is harmful to your health and wreaks havoc on your weight loss efforts. Keep plenty of water on hand for proper hydration.
Making over your kitchen is really all about setting you up for success. We all know that if the tempting stuff is in the house, it'll eventually gets eaten. We all have weak moments: stress, fatigue, kids screaming, late nights at work/school, etc., that can break down our resistance to the high fat, high sugar addictive foods.
Part Two - The Freezer
Anyone who has walked the freezer aisles at the store knows how plentiful frozen temptations are. How does your freezer measure up?
Purge this: Ice cream. We may as well get this one over with. Hiding a gallon or two (or even a pint) of your favorite ice cream "for a rainy day" is NOT a great idea. Save yourself from that temptation and don't buy it!
Replace with: Frozen fruit. When your sweet tooth starts acting up, throw your favorite frozen fruit into the blender with a little fat-free milk, vanilla protein powder and whip up a healthy fiber-filled smoothie. Tasty and 100 times better for you.
Purge this: Frozen Pizza. This is another one of those items that is just too tempting to keep around. Why would you bother to make a healthy dinner when a frozen pizza is calling your name? Ban frozen pizza from your home and watch as your waist starts to shrink.
Replace with: Turkey, Veggie Patties, Amy's Organic frozen Burritos, frozen slow cooker meals that you can drop into the crock pot in the morning that’ll be ready for dinner. For quick dinners keep your freezer filled with lean meat and vegetable based patties. Serve on a bed of brown rice or on a whole grain bun.
Purge this: TV Dinners. The next time that you are tempted to buy a pre-packaged frozen meal, please turn the package over and read the nutritional facts. You will be shocked by the staggering number of calories and less-than-healthy ingredients.
Replace with: Home-made Portioned Meals. Spend some time on the weekends to cook up healthy meals, and then freeze them in portioned containers. Then throughout the week you simply need to reheat and enjoy. Click here for the BBC Veggie Burger Recipe or go here for the slow cooker recipes.
Purge this: Frozen Breakfast Food. French toast, waffles and pancakes are popular items in the freezer aisle. Don't fall for the pretty photos and tasty-sounding names. These items are highly processed and contain loads of unnecessary sugar.
Replace with: Sprouted Whole Grain Bread and Muffins (Ezekiel Bread found in the frozen section is one of my favorites). It is just as easy to throw a slice of sprouted, whole grain bread into the toaster as it is a frozen waffle. Spread it with some natural peanut or almond butter and pair it with a piece of fruit. Now that's a much healthier breakfast. If you do opt for the frozen waffles, go with 100% whole grain.
Part Three - The Pantry
For some, this may be the most painful part of the kitchen raid, since most junk food ends up here. So take a moment to give yourself a pep talk before grabbing that garbage bag and opening your pantry. And remember, the Pantry is where you REALLY want to focus on the 5 ingredients or less rule. Triscuits = 3 ingredients. Wheat Thins = 25+ ingredients. Tricuits are made from grains, and the better choice here. Pretzels have lots of ingredients, Baked Scoops = 3 ingredients, the better option!
Purge this: Sugar-filled cereal. If sugar or high fructose corn syrup are listed as ingredients on your cereal box, it's got to go. Sugar-filled cereal is basically another form of junk food, and will only add inches to your waist. If there's a cartoon on the box, purge it!
Replace with: Whole Grain Oatmeal. There is a huge difference between instant, sugar-filled oatmeal packets with 20+ ingredients and whole oats. Quaker Oats in the cylinder container = 1 ingredient! Shredded Wheat is another GREAT choice for cereal. Mix in some fresh berries, or a scoop of protein powder for flavor, and you'll start your morning off on the right foot!
Purge this: Refined/White Bread/Rice/Pasta. These highly processed products promote weight gain and a plethora of other health problems. Do not buy "white" bread, rice or pasta - especially if you want to lose weight. Rid your pantry of bleached, enriched or processed ingredients.
Replace with: Whole Grain Bread/Rice/Pasta. Whole grain is the best choice you can make. It is filled with healthy fiber, and is less likely to contain harmful, waist-expanding ingredients. Again, ideally you're looking for foods with 5 ingredients or less. With bread, look for “grain” or “wheat” as the first ingredient, and 3 grams of fiber (or more) PER SLICE. Don’t eat it if it says “bleached” or “enriched”. If you need quick and easy rice, try Uncle Bens whole grain rice you can microwave in 90 seconds – there are plenty of flavors and options to choose from.
Purge this: Chips/Crackers. While refined chips and crackers are fun to munch on, the extra calories will quickly add up. Do yourself a favor by not allowing these into your pantry.
Replace with: Almonds. The key to making this snack a winner is to practice portion control. Place a handful of almonds into individual bags for pre-portioned snacks. Or stick to the Triscuits with a little low fat cottage cheese on top. Or again, Baked Tostitos Scoops - they're low in fat and have 3 ingredients, with corn being the primary ingredient.
Purge this: Packaged Sweets. Cookies and cakes and candies shouldn't be a regular part of your diet if the goal is a lean body, so keep them out of your house to avoid the temptation. It's one thing to enjoy a dessert once in a while, it is quite another to routinely eat processed sweets at home.
Replace with: Fresh fruit. When you want to munch on something sweet, turn to some delicious fruit. Another option is to make your own chex mix by adding dried fruit, nuts, and whole grain Chex for a healthy snack!
That completes your self-guided springtime kitchen clean up! I encourage you to raid your kitchen this weekend, and then every couple of months afterward as a way of keeping yourself on track. And as always, let us know if you need more information!
Your friend in fitness,
HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. | 4325 Red Bank Rd Cincinnati, OH 45227 | 513-407-4665 | www.CincinnatiFitness.com