Why wait until the spring to start cleaning? Get a head start, and you might even boost your odds of weight-loss success. Creating a healthy kitchen—one that eliminates or at least limits the temptations you face on a daily basis, and actually encourages good-for-you choices—will get you to your goal weight that much quicker. Check out this six-step plan to make your kitchen a healthy-eating zone:
- Empty the fridge. Remove everything from the fridge (then freezer) and clean all the shelves and drawers. (Common household products like vinegar, lemon and baking powder make great natural cleaners.) Toss any food that’s expired, unrecognizable or will never be eaten! Restock the fridge and freezer, putting healthy food, like low-fat yogurt and veggies, where it can be seen and grabbed easily—front and center and at eye level. (By the way, supermarkets use this trick in reverse: They stock high-calorie, sugary picks at eye level; the nutritious stuff is typically above and below.)
- Clear out cabinets. Get rid of most junk food, including chips, cookies, and crackers. (You can keep your favorite treat or two—a small daily splurge helps ward off feelings of deprivation.) In their place, load up on canned veggies, beans, broth-based soups (one of my favorite foods!), tuna fish and brown rice—healthy staples you can easily build a complete meal around.
- Hide treats. Remember the one or two treats you were allowed to hang onto? Be sure to stash them in the cabinet instead of leaving them on the counter in plain sight to reduce the temptation to nibble!
- Make a fruit bowl your centerpiece. Load up a bowl with a day’s worth of apples, bananas, oranges, or whatever your favorite fruit is, and put it right in the center of the kitchen table or on the counter. (Fruit is fine out of the refrigerator for a day; beyond that, it should be refrigerated.) Not only will it add a little color to your kitchen, but it’s also a good reminder; if you do get the urge to snack, the fruit will be the first thing you think of.
- Dust off the spices. Go through your spice rack or cabinet to make sure they’ve not lost their potency or flavor. Dried herbs typically last a year or two, grounds spices two to three years and whole spices three years of more. (You can label any new spices or herbs you buy with the purchase date so you don’t forget when you bought them.) Smell and taste any you’re unsure of to make sure they’re still good. Then, make an effort to start using them more. Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to your recipes without adding any fat or calories!
- Give yourself an oil change. Oils typically last six months (nut oils don’t last quite that long). Toss any that are older than that or smell or taste strange, and replace them with healthy oils, including olive, canola, and nut oils. (You can prolong the length of your oils by storing them in a cool, dark spot.)