Set Yourself Up For Nutrition Success With a Kitchen Refresh
Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Minneapolis based personal trainer and nutrition coach, Megan Schall. Megan’s been a distance coaching client of mine for a number of years (I write her training programs), but is someone I’ve referred many other clients to when they have any nutritional needs or questions.
She’s an awesome coach.
I’m always excited when I can provide sound nutrition based content on the site and I think you will appreciate Megan’s down-to-Earth approach and tone.
I hope this will be the first of more submissions from Megan (hint, hint. nudge, nudge).
The Kitchen Refresh
When I first started distance coaching with Tony, I told him one of my goals was to be able to do a pull-up. So for the first several months my program included a shit-ton of upper back work (so. many. rows.) and core stability exercises.
After a steady progression from month to month, the day finally came and…
…I walked up to the bar (well, I walked up to a box underneath the bar because I’m short) and did my first strict pull-up, no problem.
I admit I was a little nervous that it wasn’t going to happen! But looking back I realize I had no need to worry – Tony had set me up for success. His plan had created an environment where it was basically impossible for me to ‘fail’ because all the pieces were already in place.
This same concept applies when it comes to our eating habits and food choices: setting up your environment in a way that makes better choices easy and less great choices difficult (or impossible) allows you to conquer your nutrition goals.
Enter the Kitchen Refresh
The kitchen refresh is exactly as it sounds: You are going to clean out and refill your kitchen, updating it to support your needs and goals.
It’ll be fun, I promise!
This can be especially helpful right now, as most of us are spending a lot more time at home and thus a lot more time in or near the kitchen. As hard as it might have been to avoid treats in the office, having your kitchen a few steps away (or maybe your kitchen is your office now) makes it that much more challenging, not to mention the stress, boredom, and social isolation also affecting our food and eating choices.
Let’s walk through it step by step:
Step 1: Prepare
This is where you will make a plan for what will stay and what will go. Determine criteria that will make it easy to decide whether to keep or toss items – there’s the obvious ‘toss’ items (anything that has expired or that looks like a lab experiment), but otherwise this will vary for everyone. Defining clear guidelines for what you want to have around and what needs to go will make the cleaning out process much easier.
To be clear, this is a random picture I found on the internet. Not my fridge…;o)
One strategy for doing this is to make a list of red, yellow, and green light foods.
Red Light Foods = Things that you know don’t make you feel good or are just too tempting if they’re in the house (this may include things like highly processed foods and/or certain ingredients, and anything that feels mentally challenging to have around or you find difficult to eat in moderation).
Yellow Light Foods = Those that may not be the ‘best’ choice but that you are comfortable keeping around and can eat in moderation.
Green Light Foods = Items that make you feel great and help you reach your health and wellness goals (generally all whole/fresh foods, fruits and veggies, etc.).
(Note From TG: My “red light foods” are honey wheat pretzels, Cheez-Its, cereal, and those pills that Bradley Cooper took in that movie Limitless).
You know, cause every blog post needs an obscure reference to a movie made in 2011.
Step 2: Toss
Grab a trash bag (or several) and get to work. Read labels carefully. Remove red light foods and move yellow light foods to harder to reach areas or out of sight.
Put green light foods front and center.
This can also be a chance to clear out some of the extra “stuff” that might be hanging around the kitchen. Those 17 extra spatulas you never use? Give one to each of your friends, donate them, or find a creative new use.
Step 3: Restock
Use your green/yellow light foods to make a grocery list and stock up. Rearrange or reorganize so the “better” choices are also the easiest – keep fruits and veggies accessible and visible in the kitchen or fridge. Keep the items you use most often in easy to reach places.
BONUS Step 4: Upgrade
Is there anything that would make life easier when it comes to your food prep or kitchen organization?
- A great blender that would make you happy to put together a post-workout smoothie?
- A sharp knife and good cutting board to chop veggies?
- Decent food storage containers?
- A time machine to head back to November 2019 to invest in Zoom stock?
Investing in some equipment can make a world of difference, and now’s the chance to take inventory of what you might want or need.
Wasn’t That Fun?
Okay, “fun” may have been a bit of a stretch. The kitchen refresh isn’t like demo day in an actual renovation where you get to pile drive your old cabinets.
However, what WILL be fun is the better sense of control you’ll have over your eating habits.
Cleaning out the kitchen can feel overwhelming, and it certainly does not have to be done all at once. Start with one drawer or cabinet. Set a timer for five minutes and go to town. Maybe you keep a trash bag in the kitchen and get rid of whatever isn’t working for you whenever you come across it, or aim to toss one item a day.
Make a game out of it and get the whole family involved!
Use this as a guide, but feel free to be creative and find what works best for you.
One more thing to note: This process can be challenging if you have multiple family members who all have different wants/needs/food allergies etc.
Some compromises may need to happen – if your red light foods include ice cream and tortilla chips but your significant other or kids likes to have them around, are there compromises that make it work for both of you? (eg: buy smaller containers and keep them in the back of the freezer or out of sight.) It may take a little problem-solving to make sure everyone’s needs are met, but it can be done!
Just as your workout program helps you reach your fitness goals, the kitchen refresh is a great way to make your environment work for you and set yourself up for success. Give it a try and you’ll be well on your way to your first nutrition pull-up!