When we think of spring our minds tend to turn straight to diets — restrictive eating regimes that we follow for a day or two (if we’re lucky) to try and undo the damage of a few months of eating too much and moving too little.
Since extreme diets are rarely successful, a more fruitful alternative is to consider ways in which you can re-organise your kitchen and your life to make it easier to eat a lower-calorie, more nutrient-dense diet. And when you do that something glorious happens — healthy eating and weight control become the default, rather than something we constantly aspire to.
So if you know that your diet and lifestyle is in desperate need of an overhaul, here are some easy steps to put you back in control of your nutrition and your health.
1. Keep the healthy options in plain sight
If there’s an easier health hack than storing your fresh fruit, vegetables and water in plain view, then I’m yet to hear it. Naturally, doing this will remind you to eat and drink more of the good stuff. It’s that simple.
This means keeping a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen bench, placing chopped vegetables on the first shelf of the fridge so you see it as soon as you option the door, and keeping still or sparkling water on benchtops, or chilled bottles within easy reach.
This also works in reverse, as human beings will eat what’s readily available to them —keeping tempting foods out of sight is also very important.
This means packing away crunchy snacks and sweet treats so you actually have to search for them, repackaging tempting foods such as biscuits and snack food so you cannot see the packets, and making sure the first foods you see when you open the fridge or pantry are not unhealthy options.
2. Clean out the cupboards
When was the last time you had a really good clean out at home? If you can’t remember then it’s time to get busy, and here’s why.
Even the most organised among us will know how easy it is to find ourselves with a backlog of extra foods and ingredients that end up being thrown away. A thorough clean-out is the easiest way to repackage foods so you utilise them — so chuck out anything that’s out of date and get inspired to make some new dishes to use up ingredients you have, rather than buying more food.
3. Re-organise your fridge
A healthy fridge indicates a healthy diet but if your crisper is heaving with too-old veggies and suspect jars and containers of stuff lurking in the back, then take that as a sign you need to get organised.
Throw away old leftovers, give the fridge a good clean out, and stock up with a variety of different-sized, clear, plastic containers to fill with fresh foods and to keep on hand to package healthy leftovers.
Keep different shelves for each food group, such as meat and fish on the bottom shelves, dairy in the door and fresh fruits, salads, grains and vegetables on the main shelves within easy reach. A clean, healthy-looking fridge will encourage you to eat fresher, better quality food every single day.
4. Conduct an appliance audit
If your kitchen counter is cluttered, it will make it challenging to have the space you need for food prep.
While it makes sense to keep the core appliances that will help you eat better within easy reach, such as blender to whip up a brekkie juice or a steamer to prepare your vegetables each night, it may also be the case that you have a lot of items you rarely use.
Here, packing them away, selling them or replacing with more cost- and time-effective options is an easy way to get excited about home-cooked meals again. When you have the space and equipment you need to prepare healthy meals, dinner time and meal prep will become much less of a chore each week.
5. Create a healthy vibe
Whether a healthy, bright and energising kitchen in your home translates into buying fresh flowers each week, a notice board with the weekly menu featured or even motivational quotes and imagery strategically placed on the fridge, creating a space in which health and wellbeing is front and central, is naturally conducive to eating well. With spring in the air it’s the perfect time to reinvent your kitchen space and your lifestyle for a healthy end to lockdowns and 2021.
Author Susie Burrell is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Me, co-host of The Nutrition Couch podcast and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.