Purge the pantry

Delve into those kitchen cupboards and give them an overhaul

I was standing in line at the supermarket, having done the grocery shopping today, and couldn't help noticing the woman in front of me unload her groceries on to the conveyor belt. If you are what you eat then this person - possibly all of one hundred kilos - was testament to that fact. Out of the trolley came copious packets of biscuits, chips, bottles of coke, sauces, plus white varieties of chocolate sugar, and bread.

What an individual chooses to purchase at the supermarket is really none of my concern, and hey she might have been stocking up for a party, but it got me thinking: if the majority of food stuffs in my kitchen were like the ones piled up before me at the checkout, would I shun it all and desperately forage around from some fresh ingredients to try and put in a cous-cous dish? In all honesty, probably not, because grabbing a packet of corn chips and a handful of chocolate biscuits is a lot easier. And they would be there to be eaten after all. But if foods like those listed above aren't readily and constantly available to you, then you can't be tempted to go for the instant (and often unhealthy) option.

Now is the best time to give the contents of your pantry and kitchen cupboards an overhaul. Few of us have an absolutely iron will when it comes to what we eat, so let's start by getting rid of the food stuffs that will weigh you down over time.

Let's get started

For some of us, this may be the hardest part of your health and fitness make over, so take it one step at a time...

  1. Firstly set aside a good hour and completely empty your pantry or kitchen cupboards of any food stuffs

    Spritz the inside of the cupboards with an eco-friendly surface spray or bicarbonate of soda mixed with a few drops of water and lemon. Leave open the doors to air for at least half an hour. In the meantime sort through all the food stuffs. Dispose of any that are past their best-before-date and recycle any of the packaging

  2. Then put any of the following foods that you may have into one pile:

    • Crackers
    • Soft drink
    • Chocolate
    • White pasta
    • Biscuits
    • White rice
    • Mayonnaise
    • White bread
    • Potato chips
    • Tartar sauce
    • Peanut butter
    • Refined breakfast cereals
    • Pot noodles
    • Refined vegetable oils

    These foods are either high in fat, sugar, sodium or kilojoules, and have little nutritional value. If you are struggling with being overweight and have had enough, then it's time to lump all these foods together and throw them away. This may seem like drastic action, but when it comes to your health and waistline don't put it off until tomorrow, otherwise you're more likely to set yourself up for a goal that remains inaccessible. Make your health count and start right now with the food that you surround yourself with.

  3. Don't leave yourself with a ‘cupboard was bare' scenario.

    This will only leave you feeling deprived and you'll be more likely to go out and head straight for the confectionary aisle. Be sure to replace the disposed-of foods with more of the good stuff.

    Here are some key staples that should be kept in your pantry at all times. These sorts of food offer a good variety of nutrients when consumed on a regular basis and they won't threaten you with unwanted kilos as easily even if you do opt to gorge on them occasionally:

    • Olive oil - the Mediterranean way is the best way. Use olive oil to lightly fry foods or combine with balsamic salt and pepper to make a versatile vinaigrette to drizzle over roast veggies or dip warmed rye bread into.
    • Jars of artichokes / olives - Mediterranean is still the way to go. Have antipasto ingredients to make up a platter or add to pasta and rice dishes.
    • Brown rice - is more beneficial than white rice because it retains more nutrients in the milling process and helps decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, whereas white rice does the opposite.
    • Oats - are packed with phytochemicals which have been attributed to staving off cancer. Oats are among the best carbs you can source and enhance physical performance when consumed an hour before exercise. (I swear by them for every breakfast).
    • Mixture of nuts / seeds (slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts etc.) - these can be added to breakfast, sprinkled over greens or munched on at will.
    • Tinned sardines / tuna / anchovies - eating fish three times a week greatly reduces your chance of having a stroke. Fresh fish is more preferable but have these to hand to keep up your quota of Omega3 and other goodness.
    • Organic dark chocolate - we all feel like a sweet treat every now and again. This dark baby can be used in desserts or nibbled on while you are at your desk.
    • Herbal tea (preferably green tea) - even if you are a die-hard coffee fiend, have a selection of these in stock to offer to guests.
    • Red wine - if you need a drop of something to unwind of an evening, a glass of red wine will do the job nicely. The French are renowned for their penchant for rich fatty foods and yet few die from heart attacks. Red wine rich in antioxidants is believed to be one reason for this.
  4. Try out one new recipe a week.

    When we have some indispensable ingredients at our disposal to tart up a fish dish or make a salad more tempting, we are more likely to get into the habit of efficiently preparing a healthy meal and putting the joy back in to our food. Try out one new recipe a week to instill a sense of novelty into the preparation of food. This leads to mindful eating, which helps weight loss. If we tuck into processed foods like some human dustbin, the only way is up for our poor BMI.

So get those kitchen cupboards looking healthy

If they are kept in good shape it's more likely that you will be too.

Written by Cassandra Duell

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