Spring is in the air. It’s the time of nesting, sprucing up and cleaning out. We open the windows, bring fresh cut daffodils into our homes, put away the winter sweaters. We even clean out the refrigerator, wipe down all the shelves and make room for Spring produce.
However, very few people clean out their pantry shelves. I mean, why should we? Most of what we keep on our pantry shelves won’t go bad. We can simply move it to the back of the shelf, just in case.
But here’s a dirty little secret: There’s a connection between the weight we carry in our body and the food we shelve in our cabinets.
Clean Your Pantry, Lose Some Weight!
There I said it. The cookies, the nutritionally-void crackers, the cans of junky soup, the white flour that’s been sitting there for years unused. It’s the same thing as storing stuff under your bed. You may not see it all the time, but you know it’s there.
- It creates stress.
- It creates obsessive thinking (“Oh, there’s cookies in the cabinet.”)
- It creates mental clutter every time you open the cabinet (I’ve really gotta clean out this cabinet.”
So let’s clear the pantry clutter and debunk some of the “natural” food claims along the way that marketers use to reel us in.
Welcome to The Spring Pantry Clean-Out!
1. Discard obvious “junk” food. Unless it’s something you love and incorporate into your diet with healthy choices, Get. Rid. Of. It. Otherwise it’s only taking up space in your cabinets and in your head. You know it’s there, your head knows it’s there and every time there’s a trigger you have to fight the impulse. Why do that to yourself?
2. Discard the not-so-obvious junk food. Look at everything that comes in a package or can. Don’t be fooled by clever marketing phrases like “all natural” or “whole grains” (I would love to see that phrase get banned!) or “100% healthy.” There’s so much leeway in these claims. The goal is to get consumers to purchase the product, not to improve their health. It’s s hoax! Here’s what I do:
- Look at the ingredient list: Are the top ingredients truly whole grain? Or, like Maple Grove Farms of Vermont’s “All Natural Belgian Waffle Mix with No Artificial Colors. Flavors or Preservatives,” are you being sold a box of nonsense? The first ingredient is “wheat flour” and second ingredient is “whole wheat flour.” Look for the word “whole.” If it says, “Unbleached flour,” dump it. If it reads, “Whole wheat flour,” it’s a keeper.
- If sugar is one of the first three ingredients, consider it a dessert. That includes honey, molasses, agave, or any other of the “healthy” sugars. It’s all sugar.
- Check out how many grams of fiber it has. While some products boost the fiber content by adding cellulose (not necessarily the best thing), it is an indication of the integrity of the product. (By the way, the Belgian Waffle Mix? 0 Grams of fiber. Total fraud.)
- Look for artificial food coloring such as red dye 40, yellow 5 and green 3
- Does it have artificial sweeteners like aspartame, Splenda or xylitol? Dump it.
- Trans fats, also called hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil or shortening
- any ingredient you can’t pronounce? It’s not food!
3. While you’re at it go through your spices and dump the old ones. Oh, you know, the one you bought three years ago for that special recipe? It has taken up space in the back of the cabinet “just in case?” Guess what? Spices lose their flavor and potency. Get rid of anything that no longer smells great, or you that you have not used in a very long time. You will be so glad you did!
Extra Credit: As you clean out your pantry, make a list of items you need to replace and you will have it handy come shopping day.