Spring Clean Your Diet By Cleaning Out Your House

This is the third post in my series on dieting, weight loss, and healthy eating, as we continue to look forward with anticipation (dread?) to warmer weather and smaller clothes. Now, jut to be very clear, these articles are not just for people trying to lose weight. You see, many of the strategies for successful weight loss I discuss are general tactics designed to improve the healthfulness of anyone’s diet. Also remember that you can be skinny and still have a host of metabolic risk factors you can’t see on the outside.

In the first two posts I encouraged you to recalibrate the way you think about your diet and gain a better handle on what you’re eating by measuring your diet using a food record. Whether you did these or not, today’s piece is my first specific strategy for healthy eating and weight loss: Clean House. In other words, do not keep tempting, high-energy/low-nutrient foods in your home (or desk … or car… or pocket …). Whatever your vice, tasty treats are often eaten in large portions and contribute substantial calories with very little nutritional value. And guess what? You wouldn’t eat this stuff nearly as often if it weren’t at your fingertips. Obvious, perhaps, yet many people don’t take this seriously – or follow the wrong advice about what is “healthy” – and thus their cupboards and offices are filled with nutritional land mines.

Let’s begin by defining generally what kinds of foods I’m talking about expunging from your home.

  • Cookies, granola bars, and other cookie-like things (low/no-fat and -sugar varieties count)
  • Desserts such as cakes, pies, puddings, and so forth (same notes on fat and sugar as above)
  • Salty snacks including potato chips/crisps, pretzels, doodles, crackers, or funyuns – anything of that ilk (even if baked or low-fat, and especially if it has a name and ingredient list that scream “This isn’t food!”)
  • Frozen desserts like ice cream, frozen yogurt, etc. (includes dairy and non-dairy versions of any fat or sugar content)
  • Candy or chocolate (Need I say more? Yes, actually, and I’ll do so shortly.)
  • Food(s) you know you should be eating less frequently that contribute excess calories to your diet. (You know what these are for you and can gain an even greater understanding if you actually measure your diet...)

I think why I’ve highlighted the above food groups is fairly obvious, but the world is full of dietary advice and anecdotes that do not reflect the latest nutrition science. Here’s the full article for more details and research-based nutritional advice and behavioral strategies where I debunk a few of the popular nutrition mythunderstandings out there.

(That’s a horrible, horrible pun, I know. If any of you are Buffy fans, you’ll recognize the reference.)

A serious cook and obvious Joss Whedon fan, Dr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist and educator who writes about food, cooking, health, science, and sustainability on her blog Play a Good Knife and Fork. You can follow her on Twitterbecome a fan on Facebook, or check out her food porn on Pinterest.


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