There is no denying that dining out has its perks - it’s fun, easy and takes the guess-work out of what’s for dinner but if you are on a mission to achieve and maintain a world class physique, you will soon learn that restaurants are your biggest “frenemies”. While most claim to have become more health conscious over the past few years by offering a low-calorie menu, a restaurant’s definition of “low calorie” may not always coincide with yours.
To begin with, fast-food or chain restaurants have no nutritional liability to the American public under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 therefore they are not required to provide calorie, fat, or sodium information.
The only way that can describe these low-fat alternatives are as "low-sodium" or "low-fat” - so much for you if you are calorie counting!
Sure, if you befriend your server they can be accommodating by taking special requests like “dressing on the side” and “chicken-grilled with no grease” but you never know what goes on “behind the scenes” when your food is prepared it and quite simply there is no substitution for a home-cooked meal made in your very own healthy kitchen!
So it’s time to get psyched about cooking at home - not only will you save time and money but there is a certain sense of satisfaction that comes along with knowing exactly what’s going into your body.
Having your kitchen set-up properly is the first thing you need to do in order to be successful! Here are some simple set-up tips and must-have items that will make cooking at home fast and fun - and the best part is that you can rest assured knowing what went into making your meals!
Healthy Kitchen’s Atmosphere should be:
Vibrant and Beautiful - Don’t you love the feeling you get when you walk into the produce section of your grocery store? It’s so fresh, clean and organized that you just feel healthier shopping there! That’s the same ambience you want to achieve in your home kitchen. It takes a little bit of planning and strategy to make your kitchen both aesthetically pleasing and functional. To capture that quality, make sure your kitchen is well-lit, organized and un-cluttered. The only things that you should have displayed are things that will be conducive to a healthy cooking environment!
Neat & Clean - It’s true what they say- “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”.
A reason that people may stray from dining out too often is because they dread the condition of the restaurant’s kitchen so take it upon yourself to make your home kitchen as immaculate as possible - so clean that you can eat off the floor (not recommended). Make sure to put extra emphasis of the condition of your refrigerator and that you take a few minutes to go through its contents every other day if not every day. You should have one designated shelf for your uncooked poultry and a specific refrigerator drawer to keep your raw veggies (like broccoli and romaine lettuce) cool and crisp and uncontaminated. Make sure to wipe down your counters, stovetop and cooking area after every use so that you have no chance of being infected with e coli or any other strange bacteria that may be lurking.
Motivational - Only you know your motivation is so make sure to surround yourself with things that will keep you strong and fully motivated to eat healthy! Put a photo of your favorite fitness model on the refrigerator or create a motivational collage of phrases and photos to hang it on the kitchen bulletin board. Believe it or not, these visuals may help deter you from over-eating or eating the wrong thing!
Organized & Inventoried - Organize your kitchen so that there is a method to the madness.
Start by keeping all of your unprocessed foods together and away from any processed junk foods that the rest of your family might be buying. (Basically keep your Ezekiel bread far away from your son’s Oreos!)
Keep a large bowl filled with fresh fruits next to your blender for your morning protein smoothies. Store your Tupperware containers in same cupboard; keep all of your nutritional supplements and protein powder stored on the same shelf.
Pour your grains and other measurable foods into pretty clear jars that can be displayed on the countertop. Imagine how inviting it will be to see your steel-cut oats, whole wheat pasta and brown rice waiting to be measured and prepared?
If you’re like me and love choosing from a variety of flavors of protein powder but hate the bulky containers it comes in, get creative! Try using pretty clear kitchen jars for easy storage. Imagine an array of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry protein powders on your kitchen counter - it’s almost like a healthy candy store!
Keep accurate inventory of the food that you have in store so that you can plan your weekly meals using what you already have and not overspend at the market. If you are super-organized you can even chart out your weekly meals on a small dry-erase calendar. Visually seeing your meals mapped out on this board will certainly help you form better eating and food shopping habits.