New Year’s Kitchen Cleanup

The new year is the ideal time to clean up your kitchen, doubly so if one of your resolutions involved eating more healthily – as it does for many people. So don’t focus only on tidying your kitchen equipment and your bits and bats; focus also on making sure your kitchen is in prime shape to help you meet your healthy-eating goals!

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Wasting food is something we are taught not to do from a very young age. But you can get rid of your unwanted items without wasting them. Fetch some boxes and pack up the truly unhealthy stuff you find, then take it to a homeless shelter or another worthy place where your unwanted foods are as precious as gold dust. An alternative would be a friend, family member or child who is just starting off with a new home, has been ill, or is struggling financially. There are plenty of places to send unwanted food!

Secondly, keeping plenty of supplies in store for home cooking is a great plan, but be aware of your limitations. If home cooking is not usually your thing, then you may well find it better to buy supplies in one meal at a time to avoid buying large amounts of spices, flour or other foodstuffs that will eventually spoil and go to waste as you won’t use it. You can then gradually build up a store cupboard as you go along and as you build confidence in the kitchen. Or buy in everything you think you’ll need and hope it will motivate you to cook more – you know yourself best!

If you do plan to lose weight this year, be realistic about it. Losing weight and, most importantly, keeping it off is not about making huge sweeping changes to your diet but about figuring out a sustainable healthy lifestyle. Cutting out carbs, for example, is effective but will only really work in the long term if you plan to cut out carbs permanently; otherwise you’ll find yourself gaining all the weight back as soon as you bring them back into your diet.

As such, pasting pictures of skinny people on your fridge, as some weight-loss gurus have been known to advise, is not necessarily a good plan. Providing yourself with good, healthy options is. And another invaluable tool is planning.

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Purchase a whiteboard and some whiteboard markers, then (with a permanent marker and a ruler) divide the whiteboard into four compartments; breakfast, dinner, tea and snacks. Using a website like myfitnesspal.com or any of the dozens of alternatives out there, you can plan your food for the day and use your whiteboard markers to fill it all in on the whiteboard. Now you’ll be able to see, at a glance, what you can expect to eat that day. If you have to go out, use your phone to take a picture of it so you can keep track, or copy it down in a little notebook. By leaving some calories open when you plan you can work out adjustments if your plans change, and if you don’t end up eating them you can always spend them on a delightful treat! Remember that you’re losing weight and/or getting healthier for the long term; that means factoring in treats and even the occasional Christmas-sized meal on special occasions. By putting less pressure on yourself to stay on track every single day of the year, you allow yourself more leeway and set yourself up for success.

Cleaning up your kitchen will allow you to really get your new year going with a sparkle. Get in there and get ready for an amazing 2012!