Monday, June 30, 2008
How to Establish a Healthy Relationship with Your Kitchen
It's 7:00 am and you find yourself stumbling into the kitchen, eyes still sleepy and stingy, your stomach growling angrily--you must eat. Your brain is still fuzzy and it's hard to decide what to make for breakfast so you open your cupboards one by one, your refrigerator, and even your freezer. Nothing in particular jumps out at you except the Oreos in the cupboard and the Ben & Jerry's in the freezer. "Just one cookie while I figure out what to eat for breakfast," you say to yourself. Before you have swallowed the remains of the Oreo, the entire package is completely opened and you lean against the counter having a great morning stare out the window, devouring one cookie after another. At some point your stomach starts to feel funny or you realize that the row of cookies is gone and now is a good time to stop. Because you are not very hungry anymore, you grab a banana or a glass of juice and that's breakfast.
The sugar digests quickly, you all of a sudden have a lot of energy, but all too soon you start to feel hungry again and perhaps a little tired. After brewing some coffee you decide to have a morning snack. After all, it's nowhere near lunchtime. You peruse your cupboards a little more carefully this time and decide to have a piece of toast with jelly and one bite of ice cream.
When it's finally time for lunch, you resort to spaghetti or frozen pizza because it's quick, filling and really tasty. In no time you've eaten lunch, snacked on some chips while you were waiting, and then had a chocolate covered protein bar at the end because you want to make sure you are eating enough protein. When that's gone, you find yourself still lingering in the kitchen. To solve that problem you grab a soda and finally leave the kitchen.
In less than an hour, you take a break from what you are doing and return to the kitchen. You couldn't concentrate because you really wanted two more bites of ice cream. You eat that and then return to what you were doing with a large glass of juice.
Within the next hour, you start to wonder what to make for dinner. Again, you can't concentrate on what you are doing until you solve the dinner problem. You decide to take another break and look through your cupboards again. It's all still there: crackers, several bags of chips, cereal boxes, packaged rice, bags of store-bought cookies, bread, muffins, trail mix, unopened jars of pasta sauce, cans of spaghetti, soups, and fruits. While you try to decide what to put together for dinner, you open a new package of crackers to try them, and grab a little handful of chips before wandering over to the refrigerator....
Did you know that almost all of the foods mentioned above have sugar in them? How is it possible to eat healthy, balanced meals when you have "junk food" lying around? Of course Oreos are more appealing than oatmeal in the morning! There is only one way to kick the sugar addiction happening in kitchens nationwide. Call your friends or a family member and tell them that you have a bunch of food that you don't want anymore and would they like to come and take it before you throw it away? If no one comes to take away your sugar-laden foods, throw it away yourself! You will be making a big statement to yourself by doing this, and are more likely to stay away from junk food because of it.
Most importantly, replace your foods with healthier varieties that don't contain all that sugar. Buy plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and prepare them for eating ahead of time. (Trust me, if you don't, you will pass over your celery and carrots again and again.) Buy or make healthy dips for your raw vegetables if that will help you eat them. Hummus, yogurt dips and freshly blended nut dips are perfect for vegetables. Also, when you shop to replace your old foods, try a local health food store or ask your grocery if they have a health food section. Read labels and be determined to be picky and not buy foods with sugar. There are so many wonderful alternatives! Juices, jams, breads, dry cereals, peanut butters, pasta sauces and crackers, to name a few, are all very tasty without added sugars! Try several brands and varieties until you find something you really like. Also, alternative milk products like soy, almond, rice, hemp, and oat milks usually have unsweetened varieties. It may take a little bit of extra time to shop, and you might actually decide to bake more foods yourself, but it is very worth it and rewarding to eat right.
It is possible to have a healthy relationship with your kitchen. Once your kitchen is stocked with more fruits and vegetables, and healthy snacks, you probably won't find yourself lingering in your kitchen wondering how to satisfy your sweet tooth. You might grab a bunch of grapes, or fresh strawberries, or a trail mix with dried fruit and feel more satisfied in your snacking and a lot less guilty. Once you kick the sugar addiction, you may even find yourself needing clothes in smaller sizes.
Have fun with this!