Spring cleaning: makeover for your fridge

When you are ready to start making healthy habit changes, physical environment can be an influential factor in your success. When you open the fridge and see leftovers, expired jars of sauces and dressings, processed foods with long ingredients lists, or soda – it hardly inspires adoption of new healthy habits.

Out with the old. In with the new.

If you’ve already started your health journey, you may have already crowded out a lot of foods in favor of more unprocessed options.  If not, here’s a few places to start.

Crowd Out:

  • Soda or other sugar sweetened beverages. Instead drink water or iced herbal teas. Even if you are drinking diet soda, cutting that out can make a big difference in how you feel. Artificial sweeteners have been known to cause all kinds of issues depending on what studies you read. Your body doesn’t know the difference between real or artificial sugar, so you can be setting yourself up for various imbalances in your body by continuing your diet coke habit.
  • Yogurt with artificial sweeteners or sugar-sweetened fruit. You may think you are doing yourself a favor by choosing low-fat yogurts, but check the labels — there’s either a lot of artificial sweeteners or a lot of sugar added to make them taste better.  Instead, get some plain greek yogurt and add your own fruit – fresh or frozen works.
  • Expired or tired food. Everyone has that ancient bottle of mayo or a veggie crisper full of good intentions and wilted greens. Time to toss them both and start with a clean slate. When buying fresh fruits and veggies, have a plan in mind for how you will use them, and if you wash and prep them right when you get home for the store, they will be there ready to consume when you need them!
  • Prepackaged or frozen entrees. They have ingredients and nutritional labels. Can you pronounce the ingredients? What’s the sodium count? Making your own food is one of the best things you can do for your health, and you completely control the ingredients list. Also, did you know that calorie counts and nutritional info can be off by plus or minus 20%? That can add up over time. Whole, unprocessed food is the best way to guarantee you are getting the nutrients you need to support your healthy body’s needs.

Add In:

  • Water or iced tea! Having nice cold water or some homemade iced tea with lemon on hand means you may drink it. Get yourself a cool pitcher or some mason jars to keep in the fridge so you’ll always have something cold to drink, especially as the weather heats up.
  • Seasonal fruits or veggies! Living in northern California, I’m lucky that I am able to buy fresh, seasonal and local produce right in our grocery store. Buying local and in season foods ensures that your food will have the right nutrients and taste better too. Mass produced food that has to travel thousands of miles to get to you may not have the same quality or even taste as purchasing local.  Pro-tip: wash and prep veggies right out of the grocery bag and even package into single-serving size grab and go containers to take for a snack or for lunches on the go.
  • Healthier spreads and condiments. Ditch the sugar sweetened ketchup or salad dressings and opt for fresh salsa, hummus, lime or lemon juice as a substitute for your jarred condiments.
  • Meal prep! Make room in your fridge for things you can cook in advance when you have time on the weekends or pick a day out of the week that works for you. Think about cooking once and eating twice as a practice, meaning cook to have enough for leftovers you can bring to work for lunch. Or make bulk quinoa, beans, or salads that can be used for a variety of meals during the week.  Once you clear out room in your fridge, stocking back up with easy to assemble meal options will help ensure that you will stay on track with your health food habits.

Have other pro-tips for keeping your fridge game on point? Let us know in the comments!

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