Mr and Mrs Diet Food: Kitchen Clean Out, Part I

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When Eric and I decided to begin a blog series on food and cooking I was overjoyed. What could be better than inspiring our clients to make better choices in the kitchen and giving them new ways to prepare robust healthy meals? But something wasn’t right…

I kept thinking about the words ‘in the kitchen’ and I realized that Eric and I might have a different relationship with our kitchen than most people. The Bergmann kitchen is fairly sparse. Some might even call it sterile. There is almost nothing in our kitchen that we do not use regularly. Our pantry is contained to two small kitchen cabinets (you can see straight through to the wall on every shelf). Our refrigerator is basically empty by the end of every week and there is exactly zero junk food in our entire house. Our small kitchen table is always clear of clutter. Our kitchen remains a sanctuary for cooking and eating.

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Ok, and sometimes insane Halloween Parties.

It dawned on me that this is somewhat unusual.

Then I started thinking about the average kitchen and it gave me a minor panic attack…

cluttered-kitchenmessy kitchen 3messy kitchen medium

And then I thought about the refrigerator – the nexus of bad eating habits…

MessyFridgemessy freezer

If your refrigerator or kitchen even remotely resembles any of these photos you are going to need an overhaul. You need to purge the junk that is holding you back from the healthy body you desire. You need a Kitchen Clean Out immediately.

messy-kitchen gross

If this is your kitchen you need to start over. Burn it to the ground.

Remember, diet is not just about food – it is about lifestyle. Your kitchen and the food inside of it will determine the level of success for you and your family. Everyone in your home is affected by the condition of your living space. Habits are contagious.

closet kid chips

Grab a garbage bag and let’s get to it.

Rule 1. If it’s expired it’s garbage.

This includes the pantry. NEWSFLASH: olive oil goes rancid, vinegar separates, and spices can collect moisture, mold, and accumulate dust. Uncooked pasta can attract bugs if given enough time.

If you aren’t sure what the expiration date on something is, you can check the lot number online. Still unsure or can’t remember when you purchased it? It’s garbage. Does it have a layer of dust on it? Time to toss it. This rule is simple. No negotiating.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot! Sayonara leftover takeout. Just say good-bye to it now, trust me it’s easier this way.

pug pizza

This is so depressing.

“Oh wonderful, I just bought these Cheetos yesterday so they pass the expiration test!”

Not so fast, super genius. This one should be a no-brainer. Cheetos are not food, ergo they are garbage. Hence, Rule 2.

Rule 2. Get the junk out of the trunk.

“But I just stockpiled up on potato chips and cinnamon rolls in preparation for the impending Ebola apocalypse?”

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Side note: if you haven’t been in direct contact with a symptomatic Ebola patient the likelihood of you contracting Ebola is slimmer than getting eaten by a shark.

shark sleeping bag

To truly stay on point with any diet you need stop bringing junky trigger foods into your house. If it’s not in your house the likelihood that you (or a loved one) will eat it in a moment of weakness is zero. In addition, for most people (myself included) one Cheetos is never just one Cheetos. One Cheetos results in a cascade of terrible food choices that could last indefinitely if these types of ‘trigger’ foods are allowed into the house. Get rid of the junk and you will end the Eating = Guilt = Eating cycle.

Here’s a short list of junk food for those of you still in denial:

  • Candy (this includes chocolate, hard candies, gummy ‘fruit’ snacks, etc)
  • Soda
  • Ice Cream, ice pops, frozen fudge bars or whatever. You get the point.
  • Potato chips or other cellophane bagged or boxed foodstuffs that do not resemble a whole food (See Rule 3)

Rule 3. If it’s not a whole food it’s garbage.

Just because it says ‘good for you’ or ‘healthy’ on the label doesn’t mean it is either of those things. In fact, if the item has health claims or a calorie count on the front label it’s probably crap. Juice, crackers, bread, breakfast cereal, granola bars, baked goods, packaged ‘diet’ foods, and instant and frozen meals are the main culprits in this category. Food science and mechanical processing have taken these foods a long way away from their original form.

Here’s a great example of a seemingly ‘healthy snack’ that may resemble a whole food and may have slipped passed Rule 1 and 2.

apple chips

These chips are tricky because the ingredients are mainly “apples”. Here’s an easy litmus test to help you figure this one out:

This is what one apple and three sticks of cinnamon actually looks like:

apple cin

Any questions?

Anything that comes in a package that you can replace with a whole food needs to go. For example, replacing your morning bowl of cereal with eggs and some fruit is a good strategy. Despite what you’ve been told, Frosted Mini-Wheats and skim milk is a pretty tragic way to get the day going.

John Oliver explains

Pretty much sums it up. This leads us right to…

Rule 4. Beware of sugars and unnecessary additives.

Anything where the first, second or third ingredient is a sugar or there are a bunch of additives (everything from hydrogenated oils to the ever ambiguous ‘natural flavors’) should probably be trashed. Note: ‘organic sugar’ is still sugar.

Common examples of these types of foods are jellies, ketchups and other condiments, yogurt, fruit cups, canned/frozen fruits, and peanut butters. These items are not crap per se, but you have to be a savvy shopper and really read the label. You can often find healthful versions of these foods sitting right next to the brand you normally buy.

If you’ve done this correctly your refrigerator, freezer and pantry should look rather sad and empty. Having sparse shelves that are refilled with fresh ingredients regularly will allow you to know exactly what you have and what you need on a weekly basis and virtually eliminates excess and waste.

Feeling guilty that you are tossing a bunch of unopened goods? Get online and research the nearest homeless shelter or food bank near you and make a donation.

In Part II we will go over how to organize your kitchen so you can be an efficient culinary dynamo. And if you promise to follow all these rules and toss the junk WE promise to show you how to restock your beautiful uncluttered kitchen with foods that will make you a fitness adonis.

Until next time…