You don’t have look much further than your very own kitchen to achieve good health. If you have to question this, then you just may be the perfect candidate for a makeover. The bottom line is this: If you only have healthy choices to choose from when you are hungry, you’ll only make healthy choices. My proposal to you is to look at your fridge, your pantry, and any other kitchen crevices where you like to pack unhealthy, packaged, and processed foods and get tough. You don’t want to tempt yourself with these foods in your kitchen, so take control and make sure your kitchen is stocked with natural, fresh and healthy foods.
What to get rid of
Refined, white and processed grain products (breakfast cereals, cookies, pasta, breads) are loaded with empty calories that have no nutritional value. When grains are white and processed, your body also reads them as sugar and stores them as excess fat. This is not something you want.
Chips, crackers, canned soups, soy sauce: Not only are these loaded with sodium, but also excess salt in the diet can lead to bloating, swelling discomfort and ultimately degenerative conditions like heart disease.
Salad dressings, sauces, jams, mayonnaise, ketchup and peanut butter: Sugar is usually the number one ingredient in all of these items. Also added are food preservatives such as colourings, stabilizers, sulfites, nitrates and gelling agents, which can lead to everything from headaches, irritability, anger, anxiety to, ultimately, diabetes and cancer.
Diet foods and artificial sweeteners: When the calories and sugars are lowered in a product, it tricks us into thinking it is healthier. This is not the case, because sugar needs to be replaced with something and aspartame is not a food, it is a chemical. Artificial sweeteners have led to more chronic long-term health problems than weight gain.
Replace the junk with healthy natural alternatives
One hundred percent whole grain products made from spelt, kamut, barley, rye, quinoa and oats in their whole form are loaded with fibre, protein and easy-to-digest complex carbohydrates that fill you up.
Sea salt, whole grain crackers, tamari and organic soups broths are great natural alternatives. Sea salt contains trace minerals that support healthy balance in your blood. Pure, naturally occurring sodium in products also requires you to add less salt to your food.
Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, apple butter, apple cider vinegar, salsa, Dijon mustard, tahini, almond butter – with some of these wholesome cupboard basics you can make your own salad dressings, spreads and dips. They are pure, health promoting and allow for versatility in your kitchen.
Take small steps and soon you will have a kitchen stocked with the wholesome foods. You will also feel inspired to prepare more meals at home. And don’t forget that with your kitchen freshly made over, you just happen to be making over your health too!
Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.