Healthy Pantry Makeover
By Michelle Hoeing, RDN LN
Looking to shift from unhealthy eating habits to healthy ones? Then stop putting unhealthy foods into your pantry each week. Not having the unhealthy foods in your pantry will help to reduce the temptation to eat poorly. Think about it, if you keep only nutritious foods in the pantry, you will be more likely to eat more healthful. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Start by looking at the sugar content of each food item on the nutrition facts label. Any product that has more than 5 grams of added sugars per serving should be thrown out. Important: Yogurt, milk, and fruit are the exception to this rule as they will always have more than 5 grams of natural sugar per serving. A high sugar diet negatively impacts your entire body, including your brain, heart, skin, kidneys, and joints. A high sugar diet also has been shown to negatively affect weight loss.
Step 2: Any food item that contains even the smallest amount of trans fat should be thrown out. There is no room for trans fats in a healthful diet. Trans fats harden, clog, and damage our arteries and promote inflammation in the body. Trans fats have been manufactured and processed to maintain the shelf-life and texture of food. Another way to determine if trans fats are present in the food is to look at the ingredient list. If the words “partially hydrogenated oils” of any kind are listed, those words indicate trans fats are present. Trans fats are typically found in some margarines and commercially produced baked goods and snacks.
Step 3: In addition to cleaning out the pantry, be the “nutritional gatekeeper” of the pantry. If you are in charge of most of the cooking and shopping, then you can be in control of what food is available to you at each meal. Having healthy snacks ready for when you are on-the-go is essential for your success. Some examples of healthy snacks could include whole or sliced apples, 1 oz. of almonds, hard boiled eggs, packets of tuna, or baby carrots. Remember… restock the pantry and refrigerator with whole, natural foods, rather than processed or packaged foods.
Take these three simple steps and you are on your way to a healthier pantry.