If you were to open your cupboards what would be in there?
Check in with these questions to see if your pantry needs a little tender love and healthy care:
- Can you understand most of the ingredients that make up over 50% of your snacks?
- Is your cupboard space taken up by healthy snacks rather than chips, cookies, cakes, and pastries?
- Does your fridge contain a small amount of condiments?
- Are your condiments homemade?
- Are your bread products made without fillers and/or preservatives?
- Do you know what a filler or preservative will read like on a food label?
- Are your pantry essentials free of artificial flavours and/or colours?
- Do you see a lot of whole food ingredients in your pantry or on your counter? (brown/wild rice, raw nuts/seeds, whole grain flours, dried fruit without added sugar, crackers made of whole ingredients, homemade dips and sauces, fruit, veggies etc.)
- Do you feel good about what you are snacking on?
If you are reading this and have answered ‘no’ to the majority of these questions our guess is that your cupboards, fridge, and countertops are in need of a little Naughty Nutrition TLC.
If you have answered no to the last question on the list, then you don’t even need to be told that you might not be eating the best you can be. Not feeling good about what you are putting into your body is a huge sign that it’s time to do a little clean sweep (literally and figuratively).
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Why do we choose the snacks we do?
We would say convenience, budget, and taste definitely top the list, don’t they?
Think about it,
The afternoon is kicking in, you’re peckish and want a handful of something to tide you over. A handful of chips, a couple of cookies, a muffin or a chocolate bar should do the trick, right? Sure, but that handful of chips can turn into half a bag, your couple of cookies can turn into 5 or 6, and processed milk chocolate can send your blood sugars on a roller coaster ride that is incredibly hard to get off of.
Keeping your cupboards stocked with highly processed foods, and snack attacking on them on a regular basis isn’t because of just one thing. It can start with affordability and convenience, kids and family, your emotions or hunger levels at the time of purchase, or lack of motivation for healthy snack prep. Cheap and convenient definitely taste a hell of a lot better than veggies and hummus. But this mentality can keep us stuck in the convenience food and sugar craving cycle.
Another factor that keeps us munching on highly processed and sugar-laced snacks are the meal choices we make throughout the day. Do any of these sound familiar?
Breakfast high in sugar or simple carbs (white bread, cereal, muffin, croissant…)
A couple coffees to give you energy before your first meal at 2 pm.
Poor lunch choices (pizza, burger, fries…)
Meals from wrappers.
Everything is connected. The first thing we eat, the time of the day we eat, what we choose to eat, and what we snack on all have an effect on the next food choice in our day.
HOW DO WE GET OUT OF THIS CYCLE?
Luckily, with a little knowledge on how to make some small changes, these food choices can gradually be changed. And hey, you can even do it little by little so the changes aren’t too overwhelming.
Let’s just dive in and reassess what’s in our cupboards.
Who are we buying for? Why are we buying the things we do? Often times we buy snacks for our kids or our partner who might have a better metabolism than we do. We buy because something is on sale. But, always start by asking yourself; do I need to buy Dunkaroos for my kid because they want to have an afternoon snack? Probably not, an apple with some peanut butter will do just fine. And if I buy Oreo’s because they are on sale, do I really benefit from the sale? Do I benefit after I eat a whole box and go back the next day because the ‘sale is still on?’ Hate to say it, but probably not. When you start your next shopping trip ask yourself some personal questions to make your purchase decisions a little healthier.
Small changes at home make it more likely that we will take our home habits with us to the outside world where we are bombarded with nasty food choices in pretty packages with fancy nutrition labels and promises.
Download our healthy grocery list here (make sure to grab the snack list too). It’s a great place to start and keep in mind it can always be modified for your own personal needs. If you are okay having a couple Oreos and know you won’t go overboard on them…. Buy them! Remember, just because you have some processed food in your diet, doesn’t make you unhealthy.
OUR TOP TIPS TO HELP CREATE A HEALTHIER PANTRY:
1. Make sure your purchasing choices contain whole foods.
This means you understand the majority of what’s on the ingredient list. One of the best examples of a product that contains whole ingredients is Peanut butter Larabar: peanuts, dates, and salt. If you aren’t going to make it yourself, then try to make sure you know what’s going in it.
2. Cook in batches.
We don’t really think about this concept when we are cooking our favourite meals, but if you are doing pasta that uses a tomato base, why not cook a huge batch and freeze half of it? This makes it so much easier to plan your meal next time around.
3. Condiments are incredibly easy to make!
Simple vinaigrettes usually consists of an oil, vinegar, salt and pepper (and maple syrup/ honey if you want a sweet pop). Your salad dressing can be simple when you have a salad that has a lot of elements to it. If you prep a home-made salad dressing it also stays fresh in the fridge for a couple of weeks. So you can make a lot and keep it in an air-tight container.
4. Prep your fruits and veggies at the end of the week for the following one.
It’s so easy to justify not snacking on vegetables when you tell yourself they just take too much time to prep. All you need is 15 minutes on Sunday to chop some carrots, peppers, and celery. Add some hummus and you have a healthy afternoon snack for the week. Also, make smoothie freezer bags for a quick morning blend.
5. Make your own trail mix.
You can buy raw nuts, seeds, dehydrated fruits, dark chocolate chips and throw them in a container. It’s really easy and it will keep you full for hours. We’ve also put together a list of over 20 Healthy Snacks that you can download here. (includes pre/post work out ideas too!).
6. All natural peanut butter makes an amazing snack for so many reasons.
A slice of sprouted or whole grain bread, peanut butter and a drizzle of honey (for your sweet tooth fix), peanut butter and apple slices, peanut butter and banana smoothie etc. It’s an amazing food and it keeps you full for longer.
7. Added sugars add up!
Added sugars definitely add up! For example, store-bought morning granola, a fruit yogurt cup snack (usually contains more added sugar than actual fruit!), and store-bought pasta or sweet and sour sauce for dinner all contain added sugar and it’s just one sugary food after another sugary food. Gradually you will find that when you reduce the amount of sugar you’re taking in, your snacks start tasting much better.
You can start applying some of these tips, even if just one at a time. And don’t forget to save our healthy snacking list below as a great reference on some healthy snack choices. You don’t have to give up delicious snacks to make healthier choices. Take it from the chocolate and wine nutritionists over here.