We all know how to lose weight. Eat less and move more…right? And we all know that fresh produce and whole grains are healthier than fried foods and sugary desserts…right? I’m not here to tell you what to eat. But I do want to share some tips for organizing your fridge and pantry to set yourself up for success.
- Store healthy foods at eye level. You know how grocery stores display their most expensive items on the shelves at eye level? We can use the same principle for organizing our refrigerators and pantries by storing the things we want to (or think we should) eat in the most prominent spots. Put your healthiest snacks, and leftovers you don’t want to forget to eat before they spoil, on your handiest refrigerator shelf in clear containers. Put your more indulgent snacks up high (on a pantry shelf near the ceiling), or low (on a shelf near the floor), or in an opaque container. No, you won’t forget they’re there, and you won’t get your exercise reaching for these snacks, either; you are simply more likely to choose and eat what you see first.
- Plan your meals. The more effort you put into planning what you are going to eat, the more likely it is that you will eat healthy meals at regular intervals and not succumb to eating whatever crosses your path only because you forgot to pack your lunch. This is especially true if you have remembered to put something in the crock pot that morning for dinner. (NOTE: It is very helpful to remember later in the day that you DID put something in the crock pot, or that you DO have good leftovers waiting for you at home!)
- Prep your snacks daily. Figure out what a serving is. How many crackers? How many ounces of nuts? Buy low-fat cheese in 1 oz. sticks. If you buy things in bulk, measure or weigh portions into snack-size baggies right away so you don’t have to think about it later. I prefer individually-wrapped portions when I can get them. It’s just easier. If you can figure out how to do it while also saving money, and saving the planet from excess packaging, more power to you! Plan what snacks you are going to eat and cut up apples or carrots for the day. If your snacks are already prepared, and handy, you are more likely to eat them.
- Keep your fridge and pantry well stocked. I love the double meaning of this Weight Watchers saying: “You can’t eat what you don’t have.” It means: 1) You must purchase healthy foods in order to have them on hand for eating when you are hungry; and 2) If you don’t want to have it on hand, don’t buy it! The more delicious and healthy options you have at home, the less you will be tempted to stop for fast food on the way home from a long day.
- Keep your freezer full. Keep individual thin-cut (so they thaw fast) portions of lean meat and packages of frozen veggies and fruits on hand. Frozen produce lasts longer and is almost as good as (sometimes better than) fresh. Frozen bread tastes fine when thawed, but make sure you pre-separate English muffins, and pre-slice bagels, before freezing so they will be easier to separate later.
- Keep your tools handy. What tools? Things like measuring cups and spoons. Scales for weighing food and for weighing yourself. Tracking tools, like a calorie counter booklet, Weight Watchers eTools, fitness challenge journal…whatever it is you are using. Snack-size plastic bags (or other small containers) for storing individual portions. A Sharpie for writing on the bags how many points or calories they contain. (Or, I suppose, you could keep a magnifying glass handy for reading nutrition labels…but I don’t like re-thinking it each time I reach for a snack.) Write directly on the big bag/box/can if you don’t want to portion it out. I do recommend measuring and weighing, but if you do it all at once, when you return from the grocery store, you will minimize the amount of measuring and weighing required during the rest of the week.
In case you are wondering, this article is essentially a “note to self”. Have I lost weight, and become healthier following these guidelines? Yes! Do I still have a ways to go yet before reaching my goal? Yes!
What tips do you have to share? Good luck to us both!
Copyright 2012 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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