Having a basic knowledge of how to find your way around your kitchen AND a grocery store is pretty important when it comes to making change to your health & bodi! Like all things bodi related, there is no one size fits all approach, everyone has different resources available to them so we teach how to work within the boundaries of each person.
I did a “kitchen clean out” with a client of mine because she was struggling with her food choices therefore struggling to reach her goal! Having a prepared kitchen is a necessity in reaching goals, what’s the saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”! We went through her fridge, freezer & pantry, looking for foods that did and did not support her goals. ***DISCLAIMER*** we do not believe in good food vs bad food, however if there is a food that you do not have “control” when eating AND you have a goal to change your bodi, than we don’t suggest keeping that food in arms reach! I also don’t suggest cutting it out completely, so If you decide you REALLY want it, getting up and out of the house to the store will be worth the effort! Then, maybe spend time diving into the “why” behind your lack of control, it’s most likely not the food!
As you can see from the picture we threw away and gave away A LOT of food. Now, before anyone freaks out about waste, most of the food was expired, almost empty OR absolutely had zero benefit to her or ANY HUMAN to consume, in my humble opinion…more on this below.
How did we decide what to throw away? Well, from the above 3 let me elaborate on “zero benefit to consume”. Having a diet predominately of processed foods will benefit no one, especially those that are battling real health issues and this particular client is. So, our top goal is to gradually move her along the continuum of processed foods from highly to minimally processed and then even making those minimally processed foods, the minimum part of her diet! There is a large list of ingredients still allowed in our food supply in the U.S that have been proven to cause disease in humans, these are the ingredients/foods that I do not believe any human should consume and are predominantly available in processed foods, many of which people eat daily without awareness. In a nut shell, the less processed food anyone consumes, the better their health will be!
After the clean out, we looked at what she had left and what she needed to purchase for the week. I’m a firm believer in only purchasing and keeping the food in your home that you are going to eat, otherwise waste becomes inevitable, especially produce! In order to make her grocery list we went through lists of foods from different categories; proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and vegetables and first picked out the foods that she likes to eat on a regular basis and then decided on a few new foods she would try in new recipes that week and added the remainder of the ingredients. The goal here is to help her find “go to” meals, which will consist of “go to” foods that she will keep in her house to help her always have the best choices available to give her the best shot at being successful!
Reading labels is the next step, since it is realistic for her to have some minimally processed foods in her diet, we went over what I believe is important on a label. To keep it simple, I read labels for the benefit of health, not necessarily weight loss or weight gain. I don’t initially pay attention to calories or calories from fat, protein, or carbs, I pay attention to what makes up the food. If there are numerous ingredients AND/OR numerous ingredients I can not pronounce, that food is not going in my bodi nor do I recommend it to clients because it is a Frankenfood! I look for foods to be as simple and food based as possible, I don’t have a number of ingredients allowed, I just have the rule of thumb that the ingredients must be food! The next thing I look for is amount of sugar and how many added sugars are part of that number, I am not against carbohydrates or sugar, they occur naturally in many foods that benefit health but added sugars do not help anyone and the goal here needs to be as minimal as possible. Sodium is the next part of the label I look at, we do not have an ideal daily recommendation for sodium, we more so have an upper limit we should not surpass, similar to sugar. I say foods that have naturally occurring sodium like many plant and animal foods are fine to eat, however like added sugar, added table salt is not to beneficial too anyones health so look for this number to be as low as possible. Finally, servings per container vs serving size, this can confuse people and can be important, labels can show both the amount of macros, vitamins and minerals in the entire container AND what is in each serving make sure you pay attention to the amount per serving, this will help you decide how much you will eat at your meal to stay within the boundaries of your goal. In this regard, I’m a proponent of learning how to eat something and listen for your bodi to tell you when you are satisfied or close to full instead of measuring out a specific amount, however awareness takes practice and if you are new to this whole food game you may not have that skill set developed yet so paying attention to a single serving size can matter.
Finally, we looked at the “tools”she has in her kitchen that she will use to make her food and she just happens to love gadgets and is pretty stocked up on the basics such as a good set of pots, pans, measuring cups and spoons, baking sheets, Tupperware, mixing bowls, spatulas, large mixing spoons, a few sharp knives, scissors, a blender, a crockpot or instant, a grill and foil or parchment paper to help when cooking. Of course the list of kitchen tools and gadgets can be exhaustive however the basics are all that are necessary to begin.
My client knows her way around the grocery store so we did not have to get into details about that however she may spend more of her time around the perimeter of the grocery store where most of the fresh food is kept cold verses heading down too many of the center aisles where packaged and processed food reside. Learning how to change what foods we purchase and keep in our homes is not a simple undertaking and we recommend trying one step at a time, check in your cabinets, fridge and freezer and see what foods are not serving your goals, pitch them and find alternatives that will better serve you!