Are you on and off the wagon of healthy eating?
Super motivated and committed for a week or two, then derailed by an irresistible craving for dessert/chips/enter-your-kryptonite-here. You might blame your willpower, a lack of results, or decide it’s not really that important after all. Not important, that is until you’re reminded that it really IS important, so you jump back on again, but with similar results.
The good news is, your willpower has nothing to do with this cycle. Even people who consider themselves to be particularly prone to temptation, and in possession of zero-willpower, can be successful with dietary lifestyle changes. The determining factor is actually planning and preparation. If you really want change, you must support your efforts and progress.
A great place to start with this is your pantry. The key is simple: if you don’t want to eat it, get rid of it!
There are many options for this. Throw it away, give it away, donate it, stick it in the bottom of the freezer under all that salmon if you must keep it for “just in case”. If the snack/treat/base ingredients for snacks and treats simply isn’t there, then temptation really isn’t an option.
Supplement tip: If you’re concerned that your craving for goodies is powerful enough to drag you into your car and off to the store at 11pm, pick up some L-Glutamine. This protein building block has some superpower qualities: a quarter teaspoon on your tongue for a few minutes will make cravings evaporate.
Back to your pantry. What to keep and what to toss? As a whole-foods advocate, I’m sharing my personal recommendations for a healthy pantry.
Toss: All pre-packed and processed snacks. Chips, crackers, cookies, and generally snack-type foods that are shelf stable. Items that can go from the shelf directly into your mouth are never the best choice. Foods that keep for a long time at room temperature are going to be less healthy for you that foods with a shorter lifespan (think “brimming with preservatives”).
Replace with: Nuts, seeds, unsweetened dried fruits (but go easy on these if you have a sweet-tooth issue). Opt for raw nuts and seeds instead of roasted, salted, or flavored. Additionally, these items are not as shelf stable as they may seem. They actually keep better in the fridge or freezer, which preserves the quality of the fats found within them and also keeps them out of eyesight so almonds don’t become your new chips.
Toss: Highly refined baking ingredients including white flour, white and brown sugar, margarine, shortening, and vegetable oils like canola, corn, soy, and peanut. The addition of any of these ingredients makes the result harmful to your health.
Replace with: Less refined substitutes. Experiment with almond and coconut flours, honey and maple syrup, and butter, coconut oil, lard, and avocado oil. With Google, there is virtually no excuse to not at least attempt to “healthify” your old favorites. If you must be able to make the occasional traditional baked good for some reason, perhaps as a gift, just buy the flour and sugar you need for your project from the bulk bins, instead of buying a 5-pound bag.
Toss: Drinks and drink mixes. Sodas should be the first to go for anyone who wants to improve their health and life. Sweetened drink powders, and even liquid “water enhancers”, really just make water harder on your liver.
Replace with: Water, and lots of it! If you find it too boring when compared to your old flavors, experiment with herbal teas (licorice root tastes distinctly sweet, and not at all like licorice), or use lemon, lime, or cucumber slices, or even a splash of 100% fruit juice.
While a pantry overhaul has many more components that what I’ve listed here, taking these few steps will get you miles ahead on your health journey, and also support your ability to stay on it for the long haul!
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