Pantry Raid!

What do YOU have in YOUR pantry? Would you be horrified to have your trainer come and take a peek? Well, that’s just what I did with one of my long time clients and friends. (We’re still friends by the way, even though I pretty much emptied out most of the contents of her pantry.)

I need to emphasize that the old saying ‘you are what you eat’ is true. If you have junk in your pantry, you’re gonna have ‘junk in your trunk’. Simple as that. If you don’t bring tempting, tasty junk food into your house, you aren’t going to eat it.

So, I’m here to tell you to get rid of it and don’t let it in the front door again. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never eat junk food again, just make it a point not to have it in your house and lessen the likelihood that it will part of your daily intake.

I found a few things that I think are pretty common in most pantries. It was full of boxes. And I know that a pantry has staples and should have some boxes, but looking at the labels of these boxes showed a variety of ingredients that I couldn’t even pronounce. Not a good sign. If any packaged food had more than five ingredients or has ‘big words’ that you don’t understand on the ingredient list, maybe you should rethink the purchase.

You’re going to have to check all the cereal boxes here in particular. You’d be surprised at how many of these have a ton of sugar. A good rule of thumb for sugar is this: look at the grams of sugar on the nutrition label. Imagine that each 4 grams of sugar is the same as a teaspoon of sugar (because it is!). If the product has more than four teaspoons of sugar per serving (16 g of sugar), then you probably can find a better choice.

Boxed oatmeal is a pretty good choice compared to Sugar Crisp or Fruit Loops. It seems like it would be a good choice, but when you look at the label you’ll see a ton of added sugar.  You’d do much better to use plain oatmeal and add your own sweetness with agave nectar, a little stevia or fresh fruit.

Sodium is a huge issue with boxed food. You really want to look at canned soups in particular and try to make low sodium choices. An absolute no-no is the Mr. Noodle, or Ichiban noodle soups. These are loaded with sodium and fat and NO nutrition to speak of.

Your pantry needs to be a store house for ingredients with only one or two things on the label. The idea is that you put several of these things one ingredient wonders together to make a tasty meal, rather than have the actual meal inside the one box. Seems like a simple principle, but today’s fast paced world has this fact sort of ass-backwards.

Some good staples include canned fish (tuna, salmon), tomato paste, spices, olive oil, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, etc. Read labels and shop carefully for products that have less than five ingredients in them if possible.

Then there was the top shelf in the pantry full of chips and cheesies. Yes, Krista I saw them. Just cuz you have to get on a chair to get them down, doesn’t make them any less accessible. Kick those things to the curb…they really shouldn’t take up any shelf space to sit there and tempt you!

I managed a peek into the fridge as well and found some things that although maybe tasty, aren’t really suitable for human consumption. Edible petroleum product? Need I say more?

Refrigeration should be required because we’re buying FRESH foods that will otherwise spoil in a few days. A food with a few months expiration date is suspect. What fresh food on earth could last a few months? Fresh is best, so fill up your fridge with things that will spoil if left at room temperature or in a few days. The more fruits and veggies the better!

Things that you need to be conscious of: condiments loaded with sugar, salad dressings, dairy fat in milk and cheese products and again, those products with a long list of ingredients. Stick with the one ingredient staples with an expiration date.

And one last comment about bread. You can make a huge dent in your waist line by changing the bread you eat. I eat Silver Hills Squirrelly bread which is sprouted whole grain bread made without flour. It has more than five ingredients on the ingredient list, but I can pronounce and know what each one is. Top that with fact that it’s got 5 grams of protein, less than 20 g of carbs and 5 g of fiber per slice and it’s a total keeper. You’ll want to ditch your Wonder bread and any product that’s white and soft and squishy; as yummy as it may seem, it’ll make your waist soft and squishy too.

A pantry raid is a conscious effort to clean up your eating. I’ve been told (by my daughter actually and I’m sure countless others behind my back) that I suck the fun out of all tasty food. I’m okay with that! Over time you’ll develop a palate for healthy choices and I don’t feel deprived at all.

I’m all for MODERATION as well. If you can eat some ‘less than healthy’ choices once in a while, then go for it. I find that when things sit in your pantry though, they tend to be eaten more often than you’d prefer. So it’s best to clean out that bad, bring in the good and on occasion, buy something that’s not on the approved list. Eat it, toss the left overs and be done with it.

Do you need more accountability with your nutrition? What would be helpful for you? What keeps you on the straight and narrow? Share your best secrets and challenges so we can all benefit.