Good intentions to eat healthy and lose weight can easily be sabotaged by high stress and long work hours. You buy the vegetables to make a tofu stir-fry, but when you arrive home from work or picking up the kids from day care, you’re over hungry. As a result, while you’re chopping veggies, you find yourself snacking on gummy bears or goldfish crackers. Then, before you know it, you’ve unconsciously added 200 to 300 empty calories to your dinner.
Through many diets and also my Ayurvedic training at the Chopra Center, I’ve compiled tricks and tips to stock your refrigerator and set you up for success. Most of healthy eating is about planning. So, if you plan correctly, you put yourself on the right track for the week.
1. Clean Your Refrigerator and Freezer
This first step will show you if you’re truly ready to be a health food nut. By itself, this step will take your health to the next level.
- Get out a large trash bag and open your fridge. Throw away anything leftover and expired.
- Next, look at the labels of the remaining items. Throw away anything with partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils, any product with corn syrup, and anything that contains white, bleached, flour or sugar. Don’t whine to yourself that you shouldn’t be throwing away food. This processed food will make you and your family ill and should have no place in a healthy diet.
- Next, throw away anything containing artificial colors and artificial flavors.
- Now, open your freezer and repeat the same actions you did for your fridge. However, if you’ve had frozen food that has been in there for more than six months, throw it away. Take a vow to only have a minimal amount of food in your freezer from now on.
Keep anything unhealthy out of the fridge. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it.
2. Keep Fresh Oils
Check the labels and dates on the oils you have on your counter or in your fridge. Open up the bottles and smell them. If they smell rancid, throw them away. The healthiest oils to keep or purchase are cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed coconut oil, and toasted sesame oil. It’s best to purchase smaller bottles so that you run out more frequently and are able to keep your supply fresh. If possible, buy organic. You can keep all of these oils in the fridge to extend shelf life.
3. Stock Healthy Condiments, Sauces, and Dressings
An easy way to consume less calories and add flavor to your food is to have a few easy condiments on hand. Health food nuts keep low-to-no calorie items like balsamic vinegar, low-sodium tamari or soy sauce, Dijon mustard, and red pepper sauce. You can also stock healthier salad dressings and vegetable dips. Before purchasing, make sure the dressings and sauces are free from corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and MSG.
Alternatively, you can include fresh condiments in your fridge such as organic salsa, guacamole, and hummus. I sometimes use fresh guacamole instead of salad dressing. It’s high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and a little goes a long way.
Broths are a fantastic way to cook lighter and create quick soups when you’re in a pinch. Make it a point to keep at least one box of organic broth in your fridge. You can use broth to sauté vegetables with a little olive oil or you can add it to creamy pasta sauces to lower the fat.
4. Have Some Freezer Buddies
With your clean freezer, you can add a few items to keep them fresh. Ripe bananas are great frozen and can be added to a protein shake or smoothie quickly. Nuts go rancid quickly when stored at room temperature. Store your raw nuts in the freezer, in small containers, to add to breads, pancakes, or other recipes. Also, organic whole grains tend to have a shorter shelf life as well. You can store your whole grains, such as buckwheat or wheat bran, in the freezer. Freezing grains will also prevent them from getting those pesky mealy worms.
5. Make Single-Serving Snacks
One of the biggest culprits of unhealthy eating is being in the kitchen when you feel too hungry. Health nuts prepare for hunger ahead of time. They get cravings for the kids’ ice cream just like you do. They just have other options in place to avoid falling prey to the unhealthier delights.
Serving size is important when you’re trying to eat less, reduce calorie intake, and lose weight. Plan your snacks and meals ahead and create single-serving portions. For example, if you love hummus, measure out a single serving and place it in a small glass bowl with a lid. In fact, spoon out five servings and have one for each day of the week. Get some sandwich bags and create single servings of pita chips, carrots, or celery to eat with it. I like zero-fat Greek yogurt, so I buy 4 to 5 at a time and plan on having one per day during the week.
Fruit is also important to portion out. Many people believe that fruit is healthy so more is better. Fruit, such as watermelon, grapes, and cherries still have calories and sugar. Repeat the same action you did for your other snacks. Portion it out and save one for each day. Do the same thing with nuts, dried fruit, and cereal.
6. Go Organic
I can bet what you might be thinking. Really? Organic? Is it really better? The simple answer is, “Yes.” With the way we eat today, most of the time, and with the way food is produced, organic is the better option. Health food nuts know this.
Conventional food is often made with pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, growth hormones, and human waste. (Yes, you did read that correctly.) With environmental pollutants, electromagnetic fields, and so on, do you really want to tax your body with more? If you’re strategic with the way your plan your meals and with how much you’re eating, buying organic will not cost you a lot more than conventional food.
Stock your fridge with organic vegetables and fruits. Only buy organic dairy. If you eat meat, it’s most important that organic is the only thing you choose.
Now, you know what your shampoo bottle says, right? Shampoo, rinse, and repeat. Apply the same logic to restocking your fridge. Using your newfound knowledge on how to fill your fridge like a health food nut, repeat weekly for the best success.
Learn the best foods and healthy practices for your unique mind-body type with our introductory online course, Discovering Ayurveda. Learn More.