If you open your refrigerator door and a pile of junk food tumbles out, your chances of eating healthy are slim.
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Your eating habits are only as good as your supply of food. Whether you want to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight or just clean up your diet, you should stock and arrange your refrigerator for success.
1. Categorize and organize
Invest in individual baskets to separate and organize foods by type: dairy, snacks, fruits and vegetables, condiments and leftovers, for example. This makes healthy foods easier to find — and unhealthy food easier to avoid.
2. Prep portions in advance
Embrace baggies and containers. Make your own trail mix and store it in ¼ cup sandwich bags. Pre-portion peanut butter (The natural kind…just peanuts and nothing else!) so you don’t go overboard when smearing it on whole-grain crackers. When you have leftovers, divide them in appropriate portions before you store them.
3. Cut and mix ahead of time
Cut veggies and fruit ahead of time, or make a fruit salad. Having these healthy snacks ready to go makes it more likely you’ll eat them. Squeeze lemon or lime on a fruit salad to prevent browning.
4. Stock fun water
I’m not talking about artificially sweetened water but rather a large pitcher of water with natural flavor from a fruit, vegetable or herb of your choice. Mint, lemons, limes, berries, oranges, cucumbers — find your flavor, and keep it stocked.
5. Nix the juice (or any drink with calories)
See tip No. 4 above. You’re better off quenching your thirst with water than taking a swig of juice when you’re thirsty — and getting extra calories without a lot of extra nutrition. The more swigs, the more those calories add up.
6. Pair your foods
Do you like carrots with hummus? What about apple slices with peanut butter? Find your favorite healthy snack combos, and store them in the same basket. When you’re ready to snack, they’re ready to go.
7. Make fridge rules
Here are a few to get you started: Avoid processed foods. Don’t stock foods that contain trans fats or white flour. If sugar is the top ingredient, don’t buy it. Often, the more ingredients on the food label, the more wary you should be.
8. Seek healthy alternatives to old favorites
Love flavored non-dairy creamer in your morning coffee? Stock unsweetened vanilla almond milk instead. You’ll get the hint of flavor in your java without the sugar and trans fats of flavored creamer.
9. Make yourself work
When you have to work to eat a snack, you may slow down your pace and enjoy it more. Think of an orange you need to peel rather than orange juice you can grab and gulp, for example.
10. Find a motivational message
Find something that inspires — motivational words, a picture that represents you at your best — and put it on the fridge. Remember, it’s the last thing you’ll see before you open the door.
By Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD