Making your kitchen support your health

I’m big on organizing. I like things to have a proper place, every evening I do a little walk through and put things away, take back those objects that randomly made their way to the other side of the house, give the kitchen a wipe down, and take a deep breath to end the day.

Even though the spaces we occupy directly interfere with our health, this is not something we usually think about when thinking of health. We automatically go to food, exercise, toxins… but our environments? Not so much. However, our spaces directly influence our choices. You know this instinctively, you probably just never stopped to think about it.

How many times have you been at the checkout lane and made an impulse buy on a snack? They are there for a reason. The same goes for your kitchen, what you can readily see and reach will inform your impulsive decisions, and conversely, what you cannot readily see and reach will force your mind to add an extra step to the decision. In other words, if you need to open the fridge, freezer or cabinet, you need to want it more than if you simply need to snatch it off the counter.

If you can organize your kitchen you can organize your life.

Louis Parrish

Imagine this… you were running errands all morning and you finally get home, you’re hungry. You have a fridge stocked with fresh vegetables, lean meat, some fruit, maybe all the makings for a salad. You also have a stocked cookie jar on the counter, and bags of chips in the top drawer. Like I said, you’re hungry. Chances are you’ll reach for a cookie, maybe even a bag of chips, while you chop your veggies and meat and maybe make a salad. Had you not had the cookies and chips to begin with, your choices would automatically be different.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not a post about what to eat or not to eat, I have a different post on that, I am simply posing the question: does your kitchen support your health goals?

I eat very consistently for years now, and a few days a year I indulge; namely our birthdays (4 in the year), halloween and Christmas day. These 6 days a year I really do not pay close attention to what I eat, I let myself enjoy whatever I baked, bought, taxed (hello parent halloween tax), received and go about my day. What I feel every one of these 6 days is an energy wave, or energy waves. I usually have some sugar after lunch, and a couple of times during the afternoon, and every time it’s the same, there’s this energy high and then a while later I’m feeling tired and out of energy. Why? Too much highly palatable food. That’s what those foods do to my body, which has grown accustomed to living without them.

Do I have these foods in my house? Yes. Are they readily accessible? Heck, no! I am a former sugar afficionado, and learning to deal with sugar was certainly one of the hardest things I have put my body through… I don’t ever want to go through that again. A side note… my relationship with sugar was REALLY bad, and my personal path to healing this relationship was cutting it out for a season. Not something everyone has to do. There are chocolate chips in my deep freezer, there are desserts I don’t like (but the hubbie does) in the kitchen freezer, and nowhere do I have the sugar I really love. Because… I’m just like the next person – if it’s easier to eat the chocolate, the cookies, the cake… I’ll eat that instead of making myself a snack that won’t made me hyper and then tired.

I’m sure you have your own examples of how food affects your mood, productivity and energy.

Here are 3 ways you can make your kitchen support your health:
1. Keep the healthiest foods readily accessible
If you’re keeping food on your counter, make sure it’s the best food for your body, so that the first message your brain gets when seeing your kitchen is for the healthier options. The easiest foods to see and grab in your fridge should be your healthiest choices. Resist the temptation to have a candy bowl by the door or a snack drawer in your office. Simply put, you tend to eat what you see first, so consciously choose what you’ll see first.

2. Avoid TV snacking
Ok, this is hard for me, but it’s a big one. If you’re a TV snacker (because, well… every movie or show is more entertaining with popcorn), work towards choosing healthy options to munch on, and also work towards having a specific portion you will eat, and stop there. This is called distracted eating, and doesn’t only happen in front of the TV. Besides healthier options and limiting portions, it can be helpful to give yourself something to do while watching TV, like squeezing a stress ball, colouring, painting your nails, etc.

3. Have enough supplies to cook with
If you only have one cutting board, one frying pan and makeshift measuring cups, at some point you will find yourself overtaxing your supplies in order to make a simple, nutritious meal. Cooking anything from scratch or semi from scratch will require some kitchen gear, and you should have enough. How much? That depends on what you enjoy eating and how much you want to cook, but have a basic assortment. For instance, if you only have one cutting board and you are cooking some chicken and then cooking some chopped veggies, you will have to wash the board in between cutting the chicken and the veggies. If you have two boards you will save time and wash both during clean up. It seems like a small thing, but these little extra chores add up and when you just want to eat already…. they can seem big.

Ok, you have the information, now what do you do with this?
1. What is your health goal?
Pick one, just one.
2. Does your kitchen support this goal?
Go into your kitchen and do a check to see if your counters, cabinet, fridge and freezer support the goal you want to reach.
3. Make necessary changes
Some people throw things out and start fresh, some gradually incorporate change. Regardless of how this works best for you, work towards organizing your kitchen in a way that your first option supports the life you want to live, and the goal you want to reach.

Remember, you’ve got this.

Keeping it simple,