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Where is Danger Lurking in Your Kitchen?

Stop Trouble Before it Starts

-- By Mike Kramer, Staff Writer

Anytime is a good time to give your kitchen a healthy inspection. Nasty foods and hidden pitfalls are just waiting to tempt you into reverting to bad habits. They may even be disguising themselves in a "healthy" cloak. To have healthy habits and a healthier lifestyle, you first must live in a healthy environment.

Face it: No matter how motivated you are to get healthy, temptation is going to happen. It’s just a matter of time. And when it happens, you’ll need healthy foods and snacks within arm’s reach to come to the rescue. Not every day will be an easy one and the world won’t end if you have an occasional candy bar. But you sure don’t need to make it easy to take a step backward.

There’s no better time to take stock of what’s in your kitchen and be objective about whether it’ll hurt or help you later on. You may have developed an attachment to the cheesecake on the bottom shelf or the movie theater butter popcorn stashed behind the toaster, but this is no time to be sentimental. Your health is at stake!

Start with the fridge and pantry. Focus on replacing sugary and high-calorie foods with whole grains and lower-calorie alternatives.

  • Throw out: Thick dressings, white rice, creamers, white pasta, chips, dip, soda, mayonnaise, pudding and just say no to Twinkies!
  • Keep: Vinaigrettes, spinach, nuts, sweet potatoes, whole wheat pasta, grain rice, tomatoes, oatmeal, carrots, salsa, yogurt, mustard, natural applesauce.
  • Put on probation (if they become a problem, get a substitute): High-fat cheese, whole milk, butter, ice cream, eggs, cooking oil, beef. <pagebreak>
Then move on to the rest of the kitchen:
  • Learn to read food labels
  • Buy a sturdy cutting board for all the fresh veggies you’ll be cutting up
  • Get plenty of plastic bags and containers for portioning out prepared foods and storing healthy leftovers
  • Collect healthy, quick recipes
  • Toss out all those pizza coupons
  • Get a few drinking bottles for keeping cold water in the fridge
  • Put a bowl of fruit and granola/breakfast bars by the back door
And while we are still in the kitchen...

... learn where to spend your weight loss dollars. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, it takes more than reading a book or joining a gym. It really takes a lifestyle change of consistently picking up good habits and chucking old habits to the curb. Exchanging habits takes some time, so the smartest thing you can do is to make it easy on yourself. That means making it easy on your pocketbook too.

How can saving some dough make you a little less "doughy" around the middle? By spending smartly. Weight loss is not necessarily going to be cheap. But the more you make your money work for you, the more you stretch your dollars like a tight hamstring, the more likely you’ll be building a program you can stick with.

You will need to spend some money to do things differently than you are today. All change costs something. By spending money in the right way, you can set yourself up with tons of options and a collection of healthy resources that make a huge difference. But starting from square one, some things are worth spending money on and some things aren’t.

Invest in:
  • Fresh food and produce
  • A pitcher with a filter for all that water you’re going to need
  • Spices so healthy food doesn’t get boring
  • Cookbooks
  • Tupperware (the greatest gift to combat fast food convenience)
  • Rewards for yourself
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