Are the items in your pantry keeping you from reaching your health goals? Do you find yourself wondering why you cannot lose those last 5 to 10 pounds? Ever wonder why you are always craving sugar or find yourself snacking? Do you find yourself getting tired in the afternoon and wonder why? You are most likely riding the blood sugar roller coaster and it is time to clean up your nutrition and start getting results.
When you open the door to your pantry what is the first thing that you see? Is it a box of sugar filled cereal, a basket full of granola bars or a bag of salty potato chips? I challenge you to go take a look, grab the first two items you see, now check the ingredients. How many grams of sugar does it have and do you recognize all of the ingredients? Four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon of sugar. According to the American Heart Association males should eat no more than 37.5 grams, or 9 teaspoons, of sugar while females are to not consume more than 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons1. I would recommend avoiding added sugars all together, especially if you are a sugar addict. Sugar is extremely addictive, the more you eat the more you crave. Sugar increases your need for certain vitamins, including B vitamins. Sugar adds unnecessary stress to the adrenal glands (read more about the adrenals here). It can also deplete the body of important minerals, like magnesium, zinc and potassium.
If you have health goals and are struggling to meet them, listen up. Something is not going according to plan. I would guess that your weight is not budging or you continue to have sugar cravings not because you are over eating vegetables. You are most likely having too many unhealthy snacks. So, here is what I am suggesting, clean out your pantry. Get rid of all the sugary and processed snacks. When I say get rid of them I do not mean eat all of them, I mean get rid of them! Take them to your work and give them away (not that anyone should be eating them but…), just get rid of them. I know what many of you are thinking, what will I eat, especially those of you with kids. I will tell you there are tons of options. You should not be eating sugary snacks and neither should your children. Children who are eating too much sugar and have blood sugar imbalances tend to have behavior issues. These children frequently are also not getting enough essential fatty acids, which are important for brain development. Now is the time to help our kids create healthy habits so in the future they do not have to deal with sugar addiction, weight problems, and all of the issues that are associated with poor nutrition. There will be an adjustment period, change does not happen overnight. Special occasions will happen and there will be times where treats have their place. The big idea is to replace the processed snacks with real whole foods or at least healthier alternatives (check out my blog post for on the go snacks, where you will find alternative snack options). I don’t want you to think you have to be perfect. I have said it many times already, this is a lifestyle, it doesn’t happen overnight, and small changes will add up.
After cleaning out your pantry you can begin to restock it. When you are restocking your pantry start looking at the ingredients on the foods you buy. Try to avoid snacks with added sugars and artificial sweeteners. Also avoid foods with hydrogenated vegetable oils, artificial flavoring, artificial food coloring, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and preservatives like sodium benzoate. The less ingredients the better and in most cases if you cannot pronounce the ingredient it should be avoided. You need to be more aware of what is in the food you and your family are eating. Try making homemade snacks or keep it basic and eat fruits and veggies. Make eating healthy fun, involve the entire family with making homemade snacks like granola bars, date bars/balls, trail mixes, fruit snacks and fruit leathers.
As a Nutritional Therapist I offer pantry/kitchen clean outs and grocery store guidance to help make the transition to a real whole food diet easier.
Jamey, NTP, CPT