3 Tips for Spring Cleaning your Kitchen and Diet

Spring clean and organize your kitchen and diet to work toward your health goals

(HealthCastle.com) After a very long and cold winter in Calgary, it feels like we are getting closer to seeing signs of spring!  After being cooped up all winter, I am ready to shed my heavy layers of clothing and clutter that has crept up in our home.  This change in season signals the desire for spring-cleaning – that top to bottom, organizing kind of clean when warmer weather arrives. Have you thought about spring-cleaning your kitchen as a way to spring clean your diet?  Getting your surroundings organized can be the first step in moving closer to your health goals.  

What are your health goals?
New Year’s Resolutions seem like a distant memory. Have you identified any health goals this year?  Are you trying to:

  • Shed extra pounds that have crept up on you over the winter?
  • Eat to strengthen your immune system? 
  • Train for a running race or a triathlon, like Joe’s Team Triathlon
  • Improve your race time?

Thinking about your health-end in mind – your health goal(s) – helps identify your purpose.  Just like a map can show different routes you can take to get to your destination, knowing your goal(s) helps you identify what in your lifestyle is helping and hindering you from moving toward your goal.  Changing your environment – your fridge, freezer, pantry and counter-tops - your kitchen - helps support you in moving  toward your health goals.

3 Tips to Spring-Clean your Kitchen & Diet

Spring-cleaning tip #1: Pitch! 

Pitch the poor quality indulgent treats

  • Do you still have leftover chocolates and other baking from Christmas and Valentine’s Day (and every other food-associated holiday)? Ask yourself if the indulgent treats you have in your kitchen are “worth it”?   If you are going to treat yourself, treat yourself right. 
  • Excess quantity and variety of indulgent treats invites us to eat more of that food. 
  • Find ways to enjoy the foods that nourish your body while still being able to enjoy foods that nourish your soul.  Pick the best of what you have, enjoy that, and then, get rid of the rest.

Pitch the sugar-sweetened beverages

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages are often blamed for much of what ails us.  A study from the Harvard School of Public Health linked sugary beverages to 180,000 deaths worldwide.  Whether or not sugary-drinks cause chronic disease, or are simply associated to it, we know sugary-drinks should be limited in the home.  They are nutrient-poor and can displace your diet from other more nutrient-rich foods and beverages.  When was the last time you paired a glass of cola with an apple? 
  • Keep yourself watered with drinks other than pop.  Try a carbonated water with a twist of lemon or lime.  Add frozen cranberries or strawberries for an antioxidant boost. 
  • If you like a carbonated bite, consider having only small amounts in your kitchen.

Spring-cleaning Tip #2: Move the less healthy foods out of eye site.

Less healthy foods

  • Have you heard of the 80-20 guideline? Have 80% of foods in your kitchen be nutritious (and consistent with your health goal) while still allowing flexibility to include the more indulgent kinds of foods 20% of the time.
  • Remove the candy dish, and put  less-healthy foods in lidded and opaque containers.  Moving these foods out of sight helps to keep them out of mind, and can help you move toward your health goal.  Make it hard to access these less healthy foods in your fridge, freezer, counter-top and pantry. 

Alcohol

  • Many studies highlight that moderate alcohol consumption may have health benefits such as a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. 
  • However, synthesized research finds that alcohol, even in moderate amounts, is associated with a risk of many cancers (including breast, esophageal, laryngeal and colorectal), chronic diseases (including pancreatitis, mental illness, fetal alcohol spectrum, osteoporosis and diseases affecting the liver). 
  • Store alcohol out of site.  Most alcohols have a shelf life of at least 6 months (for beer) and much longer for wines and hard liquor. 
  • Keep a jug of lemon/lime, cucumber, or fruit water in the fridge at eye level to keep hydrated.

Spring-cleaning Tip #3: Organize your kitchen to see the foods you want to eat more of

  • Give your prime real-estate in your kitchen to the foods you want to eat more of, like cut-up vegetables, fruits, low-fat milk & milk alternatives. 
  • Store healthy, goal-congruent foods at eye-level and within eye-site to invite you to choose these foods 80% of the time.
  • Store healthy foods in clear containers that you can see through.

  • Pre-portion out snacks in clear containers for an easy snack on the go.  Here are ideas for 100 calorie snack packs

An organized space will help with an organized mind, and will make it easier to move toward your health-end in mind. 

Written by Calgary Dietitian, Kristyn Hall MSc, RD and Director, HealthCastle Calgary.  Thank you to Ruth Anne Crowle BSc Food, Nutrition, and Health, UBC,  BSc Nutrition (cndt), Integrated Dietetic Internship, University of Alberta, for her assistance in researching this blog post.

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