The way your freezer, your pantry and your fridge are set up is really important in terms of making good, healthy choices.
Keeping your kitchen stocked with things like a good blender for quick smoothies and a well organized pantry goes a long way towards easy and healthy eating.
Educating yourself and your children also contributes to the understanding of how healthy choices improve your overall diet.
Listen in as Jim White, RD, discusses the best ways that your kitchen setup can help you control your weight.
RadioMD Presents: Train Your Body | Original Air Date: March 17, 2015
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest: Jim White, RD
RadioMD.com. Train Your Body. Here's exercise physiologist, Melanie Cole, MS:
MELANIE: So, we talked about the refrigerator and the things you should have in it, but what about in your pantry? You open it up and there are boxed cookies and pretzels and chips and all these things that can counteract all the beautiful things that we talked about in your fridge.
My guest is a Jim White. He's a registered dietician and national spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
So, Jim, in our pantries, what are we doing wrong as a nation? And, what can we do differently? I mean I sometimes tell people not even to shop in the middle of the store, but sometimes we have to. We have to keep some pastas and canned beans and things. So, what are we doing wrong and what can we do to change that?
JIM: Well, it's so true. Of course, we want everyone to shop on the outside. But, let's face it, being realistic, we're in this fast-paced environment. We hear everything about house makeovers and bridal makeovers and body makeovers, but how about the kitchen makeover? I mean, in order to get the body makeover we want, we've got to surround ourselves with good food. I always like that phrase, "the abs are made in the kitchen". It's so true. Nutrition is 80% of the game. So, yes. I'm going to give you some tips on how to improve your kitchen. First of all, I recommend to start surveying the area. We do these all the time with our business.
So, Melanie, if I came to your house, what would I see at first glance on your table there?
MELANIE: On my table or in my pantry?
JIM: In your pantry. Everywhere.
MELANIE: You'd sriracha. You'd see whole wheat pasta. I'm different than a lot of people, though. You'd see pepperoncinis and jardinière. You know, people look in my pantry, Jim, and they say, "You have no food in here." I say, "Are you kidding? I have tons of food in here." I keep canned tomatoes. A lot of different kinds of stewed tomatoes and black beans. That's what you'd see in mine, but you'd also see salt and vinegar potato chips for kids' lunches and pretzels and some cereals and granola. So, what am I doing wrong?
JIM: So, I'd give you a "B". We actually do grade people when we go in. I tell you what, it's probably one of the most mortifying things to some of our clients, but it's really great.
So, the first thing I say is, "Out of sight, out of mind." A lot of times, if we see cookies on the counter, or if we see different types of unhealthy snacks, we're going to eat them. So, what I recommend is to hide them. Find a cupboard where you put some of these, maybe unhealthier, foods at a distance that you possibly can't reach. There are some cool devices out there now. I don't know if you've heard of the food safe where you can put your food. You put a timeframe to stay out of it. But, to be realistic, if you don't want to throw away the food, keep it in a drawer that you can't get into. That's the first thing. So, out of sight, out of mind.
So, if we went through surveying the whole kitchen, first, I would look at appliances. Do you have all of the necessary tools to eat healthy? Do you have a good blender to make smoothies or maybe even a juicer to make some nice juices? Do you have an indoor grill especially in these cold months? I know in the north, when it's hitting 30 below, you don't want to go outside. For popcorn, do you have an air popper, rather than going to get the popcorn in the bags? I always recommend a measuring scale along with measuring cups and spoons because, let's face it. It's calories in, calories out. So, if we can learn to eye up our portions and measure our food, it's very important to have these appliances and devices in our house to be able to help us with that.
So, that's what I'd recommend when it comes to appliances.
Now, if we had to start with the fridge, definitely survey the fridge. First of all, look for a lot of foods that may be really bad. What I'd recommend is, okay, first you have the "sell by" date and that's, of course, how long the store keeps the food items on its shelf. Now, it could be safe. Milk will usually go bad about a week from the "sell by" date. Eggs are about 3-5 weeks and if you're keeping anything like poultry or any type of meats, you usually keep them in the refrigerator about 1-2 days. After that, if it's in there longer, you want to toss.
MELANIE: That's what people never know. I'm glad you brought this up, Jim, because the "sell by" date and the "best by" date, my daughter is obsessed with these dates and if something is past, even a minute, or on the same day, she wants me to throw it out. So, if we're looking at the "sell by" date on can of tomatoes, or a can of black beans, or pasta even, how long can you keep them past the "sell by" date? What is the difference between those two and when you open up something that normally is in your pantry like almond milk or something? How long does that stay good in the fridge?
JIM: Well, again, the "sell by" date, if it starts to smell funky or taste funky, usually, there's a freshness quality. So, some things such as yogurt, you could go a little bit over. Again, it could be a week past the "use by" date or even "sell by" date, but you have to really watch because it starts to taste funky. I mean, you might lose the quality of freshness and some people don't like that.
So, again, "sell by" date, you can still eat it past the "sell by" date. Again, with the milk, one week. Eggs 3-5 weeks. Poultry, some of your meats, you're looking at 1-2 days in the refrigerator. The "use by" date, this is the best date used by when the product starts losing its peak quality. It can be safe for a little while, but, again, it's going to reflect how it tastes. The USDA recommends that we eat foods before their "use by" date, just to be on the safe side. Again, we can go a little bit over. Some people, I swear, some of the people I know feel like they have an iron clad stomach and they can eat some of these foods well beyond, but play it safe, that's the recommendation I would use.
But, yes, a lot of people don't know about this.
MELANIE: They don't and it definitely is something that's confusing. So, what do we think about canned fruits and vegetables? Do you like those kinds of things to keep in our pantry if we can't always have them fresh in the fridge?
JIM: Absolutely. I think that, of course, it goes fresh, then frozen, then canned. But, you know, having canned foods—it's very important to have those fresh nutrients. Also, I would look for a lot of whole grains. Looking at whole wheat pasta over some of your white foods. This is going to provide more bang for your buck when it comes to nutrients. Not that you should throw away any white pasta or things like that. Remember, it's moderation. You can always blend, too. I see a lot of people, we recommend to have ½ of your plate with whole wheat pasta and white pasta and kind of blend it together. A lot of kids might not notice that, too.
With a lot of your sugary foods like pop tarts and a lot of your unhealthy, sugary foods that don't have a lot of nutrition value, maybe switch to some granola bars or some low sugar breakfast cereals or even low sugar instant oatmeal packets. But, you know, keep a good, clean pantry and separate the foods. I mean, let's face it, you've got to have some of these foods around, but I would rather have someone go out and get something that might be a little unhealthy at the store rather than have that trigger food right in their house where if they have a moment of stress, they would grab it and maybe even binge eat on it.
Again, if you can't control it at the house, of course, learning healthy eating habits and behavior modification is the first key, but if that falls through, go get it at the store rather than have it at the house. That's what I'd recommend.
Now, if you have kids, of course, that can be a different subject and everything in moderation, I believe.
MELANIE: Well, even some of those sugary things like Fruit Loops, there are now products at Whole Foods that you can get that you look at the label and they're certainly better than the Fruit Loops with the million different chemicals they use. You know, all natural and some more whole grains and some natural colors instead of, you know, artificial things. So having some of those, if you do have kids, is sort of a way, sometimes to trick your kids. Sometimes they do not taste quite as well.
Jim, you've got about a minute and a half, so wrap up a clean pantry for us.
JIM: Well, I tell you what, the freezer is very important. You can have frozen fruits which is good for smoothies. Keep low calorie ice cream. Maybe some ice cream pops. They have the Greek yogurt pops, I think. You're probably wondering like, you know, "Now my shelves are empty. I'm going to get rid of this stuff, what do I do?" Well, now is the perfect time to write out a grocery list. Lean proteins such as salmon, beans, chicken, nuts, seeds, walnuts, fresh fruits and vegetables. Of course, non-fat dairy and whole grains would be great. This is a great process. Do this with the family. They can be educated on what to eat, what not to eat. Bring them to the grocery store. Educate them on products. If you need a pro, a registered dietician is always there to help that can do this for you. You might be a little nervous, but, again, having a healthy pantry; having a healthy kitchen, it will definitely make over the health of the whole family.
MELANIE: And, it's a great time to do it--in the spring. Clean out your freezer, your pantry, your fridge. Make that grocery list and take the whole family grocery shopping for all of those new healthy choices. When he said "frozen fruit", buy your fresh fruit and as it starts to get soft and your kids won't eat it, you shove it in the freezer and it makes great smoothies.
You're listening to RadioMD. The show is Train Your Body.
Thanks for listening and stay well.