Refresh Your Refrigerator for a Healthy Start to the New Year

Refresh Your Refrigerator for a Healthy Start to the New Year

Contributed by Eve Persak, Nutrition Advisor, MS RD CNSC CSSD

The New Year always calls for new resolutions and plans to eat well. Rather than go big or go home – and give up by Day 2! - we say kick-start your new healthy lifestyle with little steps, starting with your fridge.

Here are some tips to weed out unwanted foods and plant the seeds for safe, clean and nutritious food choices that’ll help you and your family eat well this year.

1.     Clean out

  • Out with the old

No one wants to start the New Year with a bout of foodborne illness. Toss all overlooked takeaway containers that have been tucked away in the recesses of your fridge. Review all ‘use by’ dates and send anything that has expired to the bin. Take a closer look at items – such as deli meats, cheese and opened bottles – that are prone to bacterial growth and spoilage before their expiry dates.

  • Artificial Everything

Get real as the year begins. Nix store bought products that are laden with chemical preservatives, synthetic sweeteners, and artificial dyes or flavourings. You’ll give your body’s detoxification systems a much-needed hiatus from processing and filtering out these unnatural substances.

  • White carbs

Time to cut back on highly processed carbs! Stripped of much of their nutrients and fibre – carbs such as sugar and refined grains cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate, often resulting in undesirable effects on your appetite, insulin sensitivity and weight. White flour products have similar effects, but with a double whammy – they slow down the GI tract and work against the body’s natural waste removal system. 

2.     Clean up

When was the last time you gave your refrigerator a good old-fashioned scrub down? If you can’t remember, don’t wait a minute more. Wipe down all the shelves, walls, storage cabinets and bottles with a mixture of vinegar and warm water, or an eco-friendly antibacterial cleaning solution. Don’t forget to clean the doors and the handles as these are used on a daily basis!

3.     Rearrange

After removing unwanted items, organise what you have. Where you place your food matters. It can prolong the life of products and steer your food choices. Keep perishables such as eggs, butter and milk off the door, where the temperature is unstable. Save this spot for breads or condiments. It’s natural to reach for what’s accessible, so move the healthful, fresh items to the front where you’re most likely to see, grab and consume them. If you’ve held onto anything tempting or meant as a once-in-a-while treat, tuck it in the back and bottom shelves, out of clear initial view.

4.     Restock

With space created and all in proper order, it’s then time to bring in the nutrition! What should you stock up on?

  • Fresh produce, herbs nuts and seed

These raw, straight-from-nature foods are rich in unadulterated vitamins, minerals and antioxidant phytochemicals – all that you need to boost immunity, metabolism and healing.  

  • Fibre-rich foods

Replace refined white carbs – white breads, pastas, noodles, crackers, or rice - with whole grain alternatives. The added fibre will regulate your blood sugar levels, appetite, and weight - and prevent chronic diseases.  

  • Organic or natural foods

If the ingredient list includes something you don’t recognise or can’t pronounce, it’s less likely to be in line with your wellness goals. Purchase products that are as free from artificial additives and sweeteners. As always, whenever possible, go for organic!