Are you a regular spring-cleaner? Cleaning our homes, workspaces and wherever we spend our most time is crucial to maintaining health. Here, I’m going to cover some quick tips for cleaning and re-programming your kitchen to support long-term health.
The truth is, what we see on the supermarket shelves isn’t always safe for consumption. Yet, it’s there, available for purchase with attractive labeling and marketing tactics that draw you in to make a purchase. And then, somehow, they end up in our kicthen. Most packaged foods are not only non-nutritious, but can lead to harmful side effects over time. Let's take your average cereal box for example. Flip the box over and take a look at the ingredients list and nutrition facts label. Some of the first ingredients are often corn, sugar or wheat. This is dangerous because 1) corn is mostly genetically modified unless labeled otherwise. Genetically modified corn is heavily sprayed with chemicals that have the ability to kill our healthy hut microbiome, leading to endless gut, digestion and immune-system problems. 2) Sugar impacts our health in a negative way in areas of immuity, energy, weight and inflammation, to name a few. And lastly, 3) wheat. Wheat has been genetically altered many times from the original plant our ancestors once knew, which is one leading factor to development of Chron's, IBS, and possibly a wide range of other diseases such as cancer because wheat has the potential to block nutrients from being absorbed.
For now, let's do a quick kitchen-clean-out, ridding some of the "foods" that cause the most inflammation or disruption to our state of well-being.
First kitchen target: Oils.
Let’s take canola oil for example. Canola oil is labeled as a healthy fat because it’s rich in monounsaturated fats. However, it's mostly genetically-modified and often a hydrogenated fat (increasing it's shelf-life), leading to symptoms related to gut inflammation, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and coronary heart disease. This article, titled The Great Con-Ola goes more in depth of the dangers of ingesting canola oil.
We don’t want to use it in our home kitchen and we want remember to choose restaurants that use health-promoting products. Other oils to rid immediately: corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, “vegetable oil”, all hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils. When you do this, you’re minimizing health risks associated with these harmful oils, and giving your body a better chance to gain and/or maintain optimal health.
Make the switch to coconut oil, pure olive oil in a dark glass container (to prevent oxidation) or sesame oil. Those are just some of my favorites but experiment with others and be open to trying new things!
Next up, sweeteners.
We’ve seen the enticing “Zero Calories!” label on many products in the supermarket, often promoted as “Weight Loss” foods. And desserts claiming “Sugar-Free!”. I’m talking about artificial sweeteners, the ones that most immediately cause headaches, and over the long-term cause weight gain (yes, weight gain) and a higher risk of cancer.
Rid the pantry of all artificial sweeteners and all artificially-sweetened products. Steer clear of Sweet ’n Low, Equal, Splenda, sucralose, aspartame. While you’re at it, rid the pantry of sugar, liquid sugar and powdered sugar (do this immediately if it’s not organic).
To replace those sweeteners, make the switch and stock up on local raw honey, coconut sugar, organic stevia extract, or use dried fruits (dates and figs for example) to sweeten.
Lastly, packaged foods.
Take a quick look to see what’s in your pantry. Do you see lots of packaged foods? Like cereal boxes? Microwaveable meals? Take a look at the ingredients. If you see more than 10 ingredients, or any ingredient listed as the ones mentioned below, toss them or donate them to a food bank.
- the oils previously mentioned
- the artificial sweeteners previously mentioned
- high-fructose corn syrup or “HFCS”
- and these products if they’re not listed as organic or certified GMO-free products: corn, wheat, soy, beet sugar
- artificial flavoring (some brands may list as "natural flavoring"... use your best judgement)
- artificial colorings (listed as red #__, blue #__, etc.)
- table salt (replace table salt with sea salt or alaea salt)
If you’re new to this concept of healthier eating and this is your first time doing a pantry clean-up, you may be shocked at how bare your pantry seems! No fret, because now it’s time to load up on the good stuff… whole, real foods will replenish the scarcity. Stop by your local farmer’s market on a weekly basis to load up on fresh fruits and veggies. If you’re new to switching over to a healthy diet, go ahead and add whole grains to the cabinet. Quinoa, oats, buckwheat, brown rice and millet are some of my favorites. They’re easy to cook and very versatile! However, over time you might notice that whole grains are best when minimized, so don’t stock up too much, rather focus on the fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, and if you choose meat be sure to go organic!
Afraid you might go hungry? Chop up a pumpkin in 2” squares and roast it in the oven with coconut oil and sea salt (this is also a great snack for any time of the day too!). Steam some quinoa (1 cup quinoa: 2 cups water). Add some green salad with avocado on the side of the plate, and top it off with a sprinkle of sesame seeds or hemp seeds. That’ll be sure to fill you up and offer an abundance of proteins, vitamins and minerals to feed your true hunger (we’re hungry for nutrients!).
Follow through with these recommendations, and I’ll send out a follow up next month to take your Kitchen Detox a step further!
In the meantime, let me know how it goes! Or send me an email with questions/ comments, subject line: “Kitchen Detox”.
Until next time, stay well!
xx, Rosey S.