Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Kitchen Cleanup -- Guest Post by Diane Paul

30 Day Mediterranean Lifestyle Challenge

We have a snow day here in the DC metro area, so it's a perfect time to clean out your pantry and get ready for our challenge. Diane Paul, ASHA's Director of Clinical Issues in Speech-Language Pathology, tells us how to get our pantries ready for our Mediterranean lifestyle challenge. 

Before and After
A new lifestyle necessitates a change in environment. We tend to eat what’s right in front of us. We are heavily influenced by availability and placement of food. Thaler and Sunstein in the book, Nudge, describe an effort to increase fruit and vegetable selection in a school cafeteria. Eating patterns changed just by putting these healthier foods before sweeter foods. So we need to create a Mediterranean-ready kitchen. The New Sonoma Diet book provides kitchen cleanup tips on pages 84-87. Let me tell you about my effort to create a “smart pantry.” 

I think of myself as a basically healthy eater---with some seriously unhealthy cravings. I don't eat meat, but I eat fish. I get most of my protein from protein bars, veggie burgers, and Greek yogurt. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. The unhealthy part is a huge sweet tooth and a love of pizza and icecream. You'd think then that sweets and pizza would be a big part of my clean up challenge. But they weren't. Because I like them so much, I try not to tempt myself by having them around. I am not tempted by chips or crackers. The only sweets and chips that we have in the house are those that our grandchildren like and I don't. 

What I realized in my cleanup effort is that I have a lot of well-intentioned foods, but foods that aren't very wholesome or fresh. I have a lot of processed foods--protein bars, fiber bars; foods heavy in sodium, like canned soups; and expired diet foods (Weight Watchers products from 2007). I even found non-fat condensed milk that I bought for a recipe from 2005 (and I won’t embarrass myself by telling you about a Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate Mix from 1997!).  

What I tossed (besides the expired foods), donated, or hid from view are sweet cereals, candy, chips, instant oatmeal, packaged popcorn, granola bars, cookies, and sodas. I didn’t have any white rice, cake mixes, creamy salad dressings, or margarine. But these are banned and would have to go too. 

What remains in my pantry are wholesome grains and flours (steel cut oats, quinoa, unbleached all-purpose flour), oils and vinegars (canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, and sesame oil, balsamic and rice vinegar); condiments (course-ground black pepper, low-sodium soy sauce, Dijon mustard); spices (some antiques); nuts, dried fruits, and seeds (dried figs, almonds, pistachios—I don’t think the passion fruit flavored macadamia nuts would count); sweeteners (sugar, brown, sugar, dark chocolate, honey, maple syrup, unsulfured molasses, and unsweetened cocoa powder). On the shelves, I have drinks like coffee, tea, seltzer, and wine; canned low-sodium soups, canned tomatoes, water-packed tuna and salmon, and canned beans. 

Here are some clean-up tips: 
  1. Don't clean up with your spouse or children. Some family members (and I am not naming names) may object to everything that you remove and put it all back when you are not looking. 
  2. Donate food. It's very hard for me to throw away food. So if you know you are making donations, it makes it easier. Just let go of those expired foods. Think of the pantry like your clothes closest. If you haven’t worn it in a year, donate it. If you haven't eaten it years after the expiration date. Or if it’s unhealthy---give it up! 
  3. Don’t bring home “free” food. Just because chips are included in a box lunch doesn’t mean you have to bring them home. And keep a distance from free candy jars and shared baked goods. 

This smart pantry didn’t cost me anything extra. I already had most of the suggested foods at home. Now I just have to make sure that the banished and hidden foods don’t slowly creep back home.


Anonymous said...

Ummmm...I wonder who those unamed family members are?? What happened to my food? (-; Stan

Anonymous said...

Love the pics and post, Diane! Way to go to get your house ready. Same deal here for Eduardo and the girls, though they have their one container of treats stashed away, and actually the items don't tempt me. Now if it were potato chips or ice cream - watch out!