Recently I worked with a client to take a step towards healthier living by doing a Pantry CleanOut. This process is more than just straightening, cleaning and organizing kitchen cupboards. My process is to first review how to understand labels, what to look for in the ingredients, what some of these unpronounceable ingredients are and how they harm our system, before we even open the pantry door.
Together we look at everything in the pantry, discuss whether it fits their current goals and whether it should stay or be donated. (On a side note- I don’t believe in throwing out food; there are enough people who are in desperation for food whether it contains sugar or not.)
We took out bags of items that included products like deceptively non-nutritious gluten free crackers, GMO and sugar laden ketchup and a number of open packages of processed cookies. Using our new knowledge of label reading we then went shopping to replace some products with better alternatives. This family has three young girls so it was important that we talked through snack ideas and options for them, not just the parents.
The whole house felt lighter at the end of that day, my clients were excited at the new possibilities and I was ecstatic to help someone continue on their healthier path.
But my favorite part of this story came when one of the young girls asked for a cookie. At this point we had removed all of the unwanted food from the house so no cookies were to be found, though fresh fruit and vegetables were abundant. Here is the conversation that followed:apple-v-cookie
Daughter: “Can I have a cookie?”
Dad: “We don’t have any cookies.”
Daughter: “Ok, I’ll have an apple instead.”
Have we become programmed to think we want the bad choice? And if there is nobody to say no to you, do you never give yourself an opportunity to make that choice? When given the opportunity, a surprising number of us will make that healthier choice.
This doesn’t mean you can never eat another cookie. I’m a big proponent of the 80/20 rule – eat clean eighty percent of the time and you can have some ‘cheats’ and ‘treats’ now and then. What if, the next time you go to the grocery store you didn’t mindlessly add chips, crackers and cookies to your cart just so you have them on hand, but rather added fruit and vegetable snacks? Would you really miss those items? Or would you just miss the idea of them? Would that open up an opportunity to have a healthier snack?
Changing your health does not happen in a day, it’s a process that we work on, if even just a little bit, every day. My mantra is: ‘It’s a marathon not a sprint and every small step counts.”0