Outer clutter is often a sign of inner clutter, or emotional turmoil, and it may be preventing you from moving forward in your goal to attain a healthier lifestyle. If you’ve been following the South Beach Diet, your kitchen is probably already in good shape, but sometimes the best intentions go awry. Being organized in the kitchen is essential for preparing healthy meals and avoiding the temptations of fast food and processed junk food.
Here are some tips for whipping your kitchen into shape for better health:
Clean out your refrigerator. Has your fridge become a burial ground for last week’s leftovers and half-used, expired bottles of condiments? Are the produce drawers filled with rotting vegetables? Have half-eaten cartons of takeout food replaced fresh produce from the farmers' market? If your fridge looks like this, it’s time for a makeover. Dump anything past its prime and all junk food, including any sugary or starchy processed foods that may have crept in. Then refill the fridge with plenty of fresh seasonal vegetables (cut some up for ready-to-go snacks), fruits (Phase 2), lean meats, poultry, and seafood, reduced-fat cheeses (including part-skim mozzarella sticks), fat-free or low-fat milk, and other healthy foods.
Deep-clean your freezer. Do you need an ice pick to rescue the food that’s languishing in the back of your freezer? Take everything out and examine it, tossing anything that has expired (including food you froze yourself), anything with freezer burn, and any frozen entrées or desserts high in saturated fat, sodium, or added sugars. This will free up your freezer for storing lean meats, poultry, seafood, vegetables, fruits (Phase 2), homemade broth and soups, and any main dishes you make in advance and want to have on hand for later in the week. When shopping, look for the best buys on protein (as well as frozen veggies and fruits) with your freezer in mind.
Check your pantry and cupboards.
Eliminate all white flour, packaged products made with white flour, and any baked goods made with it, as well as all sugary cereals, white rice (except basmati), white pasta, any condiments, dressings, or seasonings that contain added sugars, any solid vegetable shortening or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, any oils that have become rancid, any musty dried herbs and spices, powdered soup mixes, instant potatoes, candy, chips, and other junk food, and anything else unhealthy or past its prime that you see tucked away.
- Take back your kitchen. Make it known that your kitchen is not a dumping ground. If it’s the place where you or your family members end up tossing old magazines, newspapers, work papers, backpacks, toys, and everything else that no one knows what to do with, you’ve got to reclaim your kitchen and make it a pleasant and functional room for preparing healthy meals. Clear the counters for meal prep and provide bins or other containers in which everyone can put their “stuff.” Also be sure your kitchen table and/or dining room table are cleared off so you can actually set the table and enjoy meals together as a family.