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Kitchen Makeover: Healthy Eating Starts in the Kitchen

November 3, 2015 by Dean Simmons, Registered Dietitian

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The world outside your front door often puts heavily marketed and processed foods (typically low in nutrients and high in calories and sodium) within your reach. This nutritional minefield is hard to navigate, but fear not…cooking at home gives you control of the type and amount of food your family eats. Home cooking is good for your family’s health. Imagine your kitchen as an oasis of healthy food and drinks—a fertile ground for healthy and delicious meals.

When you browse through your cupboards, fridge and freezer what do you see? Chances are your kitchen could use some tidying or even a complete food and drink makeover. So what does a healthy kitchen look like? It’s full of basic nutritious food that can be used to create healthy meals.

Follow these simple steps to give your kitchen a healthy makeover.

  1. Take stock of all the food and drinks in your kitchen. Note which ones you consider to be healthy. For help deciding which foods and drinks are healthier, call 8-1-1 in BC to speak with a Registered Dietitian at HealthLink BC, or review Canada’s Food Guide.
  2. Keep the best, put away the rest. If you have unhealthy food and drinks in the house you will likely eat them sooner or later. As part of your kitchen makeover, either totally remove them, or to stash them out of sight so you won’t get the impulse to eat and drink them.
  3. Restock your kitchen with healthy food and drinks.
    • Foods that are whole, natural or minimally processed are generally healthy choices. For example: vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, lentils, seeds, plain milk or dairy products, eggs, lean meats, fish and shellfish are all healthy foods.
    • Healthy drinks include water, milk and plain fortified soy beverage. Read more on choosing healthy drinks.
    • Keep flavoured vinegars, lemons, limes, hot pepper sauce, spices and herbs on hand so you aren’t always reaching for salt to season foods. Use a mortar and pestle, or spice grinder, to freshly grind spices for maximal flavour.
  4. Set up your kitchen for healthy choices. Here are a few ideas from Dr. Brian Wansink’s research on how food environments affect food choices.
    • Take all food off your counters – except for fruits and vegetables – to discourage snacking on foods that are low in nutrients and high in calories (and often sodium).
    • In your pantry and fridge place the healthiest foods at eye level. You’re more likely to eat what you see most often. Place unhealthy food and drinks out of sight. Learn more about putting healthy foods in the spotlight.
    • Organize your kitchen to make cooking easy. Keep knives sharp and frequently used equipment within reach. See this list of kitchen essential to help get organized.
    • Use smaller plates (10”) to encourage portion control.

The home is one of the few places where families have control over the amount and types of food and drinks that are available. Making small, gradual changes in the kitchen can help you and your family eat more healthfully. What changes can you think of making in your kitchen?


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