There’s a way you can arrange your kitchen to make your life a lot easier when you’re starting to make healthier choices. If you’re anything like me, if it’s in sight, you’ll eat it. Walking into a kitchen full of temptation after a long day of work and not being able to eat what you want is almost as bad as running into a bakery right after a full marathon and having to say no to everything around you.
You deserve it right!? You just ran an MARATHON!
Or maybe you just had a really long day. That can almost feel as taxing as running a marathon, I know.
I’m not forbidding you to treat yourself. But instead of having your own kitchen set up as a place full of treats, having treats a little less accessible will give you time to not only re-think that “well-deserved” treat, or perhaps it will deter you all together from indulging and instead treat yourself to a nice healthy home-made meal.
On the other hand, coming home to an empty kitchen will force you to go to the store. Never go grocery-shopping hungry. I don’t need to explain why. I’m sure we’ve all entered a grocery store hungry and have left with 2 pizzas and 3 bags of chips. Again, if you’re anything like me, your eyes are much bigger than your stomach.
Can you tell I love food?
So let’s talk kitchen set up and food staples. Getting rid of certain things and adding others will help you stay on track. I promise.
Things to get rid of:
Cereals: Too easy and too good.
Ice cream: Get rid of the massive tub of ice cream you have in your freezer.
Juice: Any juice concentrate or juice you have, don’t save it for your weekend mix. Get rid of it.
Sugary salad dressing: Sugar sneaks its way into many things you eat. Try and limit it by getting rid of raspberry vinaigrettes.
Spreads/dips: High fat and easy to consume dips (I’m thinking things like spinach dip, mayonnaise etc) and spreads will add unnecessary calories to your day.
Granola bars: Granola bars aren’t bad, but having boxes of easy accessible snacks can be dangerous. Also, granola bars usually contain lots of nuts and seeds. If you’re trying to manage fat intake, this is a red flag.
Crackers/chips/crunchy snacks: These are a weakness of mine. I cannot have a bag of crackers or chips in my house for more than an hour. If I buy a bag, I’m committing to eating the whole thing. No such thing as portioning these crunchy delights. I avoid buying these unless I know I can somehow fit an entire bag into my day.
What to keep fully stocked:
Vegetables: Obviously. For us folks living in the city, we’re lucky to be close to a grocery store almost all the time. Buy fresh produce in small quantities and go back often. This way you get fresh product every time and it will save your veggies from going bad in the fridge. If you have the space and live farther away from a store, prep your veggies! Make your vegetables as easy to consume as a bag of chips. This equals healthy snacking and no wasted veggies.
Tip: Frozen vegetables are my favourite. They’re usually flash frozen which keeps all their nutrients longer and also can sit in your freezer much longer. Super easy for meal prep and will save you money if you find consuming all your veggies is difficult.
Meats: Lean meat. Chicken, white fish, turkey, lean beef. A lot of this can be frozen and always having a prepared protein source is super important. For easiest access to protein, although not optimal, try keeping cold cuts in your fridge. I usually keep a few packs in my fridge for when I’m in a bind.
Eggs/Egg whites: Protein! Low fat, high protein diets will come very familiar if you’re looking to lean out. Since your daily fat allowance will be low, you’ll probably want to save the fat for something that’s worth eating up a little of that allowance. Egg yolk isn’t worth it for me, personally. If you’re gaining weight and have a little more fat allowance, stick to full eggs.
Single serving treats: I know I just told you to rid your kitchen of all treats, but here I am trying to promote a flexible diet. If you’re going to keep treats around, think of having single serving treats stashed away in your freezer. Think light ice cream bars instead of a whole tub. Single serving ice cream tubs (they do exist). This way you’re not scooping a “serving” of ice cream from your liter tub into a bowl with an additional couple spoonfuls before and after, and then the “oh just another little bit” portion after you’re done your first bowl. Can you tell I’ve been there?
Healthy carb sources: Oats, sweet potato, and squash are a great carb source around your workout. If you need to eat for volume, stick with lower GI carbs like spaghetti squash where you’ll get more bang for your buck. Otherwise, having prepped brown rice or other healthy grains like quinoa are a great source of energy in and around your workout.
Calorie free condiments/spices: Mustard, hot sauce and a variety of spices will help make sure your meals aren’t incredibly bland and boring. I like to keep things as simple as possible when it comes to meal prep so adding flavour with lots of spices is a must.
Baking ingredients: If you have a sweet tooth, make something! Instead of having ready-made treats in your house, another option is to get rid of them all together and instead have the ingredients to make something. It will make you think twice about whether or not you actually want or need that treat. If you really want it, you’ll put the effort in to make it and a track it.
Below are some images of other things that I always have! My go to snacks, ways to make water consumption easier, and low fat, high protein sources.
You you have any questions, don’t be afraid to contact me! firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s a short video on what you can find (or not find) in my own kitchen. Not shown: my freezer! It’s full of frozen vegetables and frozen fruit which is my go-to for most of my meals.
416Life is a Nutrition and Lifestyle program designed to lead you to self-improvement by creating behavioural change and ultimately help you make better decisions about what food you eat. Read more about the program here.