Cleaning is never a fun task—particularly if it involves saying goodbye to foods you’ve built a long-standing relationship with. When you’re ready to make the change towards healthier eating habits, follow these four steps to rid your kitchen and life of the junk food that’s been weighing you down.
Step 1: First Sweep
Start your kitchen clean-out by tossing away the foods that are obviously unhealthy. We’re talking processed food items like chips, soda, candy bars, and cookies—basically anything that can sit in the cupboards for more than two weeks without becoming a science experiment. Be most suspecting of the food items you crave, particularly in excess amounts. This step isn’t the easiest but it will pay off in the long run. Trust us!
Step 2: Get Educated
Next, learn how to read nutrition labels and ingredient lists! This is the only way to know exactly what you’re eating to help get your diet headed in a healthy direction. Do a second sweep of your pantry post nutrition knowledge and identify the foods that you may have thought were healthy but actually aren’t (example: foods that boast they are “fat free” or “sugar free”).
On the nutrition label you’ll want to review: serving size, calories per serving, sodium, fat (especially the kinds of fat the food contains—beware of trans and saturated), fiber, sugar, and percent daily value.
Step 3: Don’t Forget the Freezer
Cleaning out the cupboards is more straightforward because it’s easier to identify the unhealthy foods, like quick snacks or sweet treats. But let’s not forget about the unhealthy food buried deep in the freezer. Much like the processed junk food, freezer foods can last a long time, and therefore need to be thoroughly examined before making it past your initial “healthy” screen test. Trash anything that’s not a whole food like frozen fruits and vegetables or meats. That’s right—frozen pizzas and ice cream gone!
Step 4: Purchase Smart
You’ve worked really hard to detoxify your kitchen so continue to work hard to keep it that way. Remember to shop the perimeter of the grocery store for healthy foods to restock your kitchen. In general, this is where the perishable foods are stored—fruits and vegetables, lean means, and low-fat dairy products. If the food item can last more than two weeks outside the refrigerator, you have every right to be suspicious of its nutrient density.
Read the label! Devise healthy alternatives to your typical junk food go-tos and put them on your shopping list. Then hold yourself accountable—purchase only items that were on your list prior to leaving the house.