Spring brings thoughts of cleaning and making changes. Cafeterias and supermarkets have proven that you can shift food and drink choices by making healthy food more appealing, more visible, and more accessible. So why not start in your kitchen with changes that can boost your family’s health?
Start with your counter because it’s one of the first places you see when you walk into the kitchen. When food is convenient and ready to eat or easy to fix, children and adults are more likely going to choose those foods over searching in the pantry or refrigerator for other choices.
- Add some color to your counter with a colorful display of fresh fruits, like strawberries, apples, bananas, oranges and grapes.
- For afterschool snacks, plan ahead by placing peanut butter and bread on the counter for a make-it-yourself sandwich.
When you open the door, what do you see? Often, our fresh fruits and vegetables are hidden away in a drawer, and sometimes are forgotten.
- Make a point to place healthy options at the front of shelves so that they are the easiest items to pick in the refrigerator. For example, have a dish of baby carrots and pepper slices with hummus on the shelf ready to pull out and serve.
- Other healthy protein choices to make visible are low-sugar yogurts, hard-boiled eggs, string cheese and lean meats.
- Stock a shelf with beverages, such as plain, sparkling or fruit-infused water, and low-fat milk.
- Eliminate regular sodas and other sugary drinks from the refrigerator and preferably, the whole house. These drinks are linked to weight gain, overweight and obesity – all risk factors for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers. If you do not buy it, the family is less likely to drink it.
- Items from the freezer may take longer to prepare, but there are still lots of quick and healthy options for snacks and drinks.
- Stock it with frozen fruit, like pineapple, berries, bananas as well as frozen vegetables such as greens. All of which are great starters for a quick and healthy smoothie.
- You can also freeze 100% fruit juice in ice cube trays and add cubes to seltzer water for a refreshing drink.
- Keep whole grain bread and pitas frozen so they are quick and easy to use.
Just because an item is shelf-stable, doesn’t mean it needs to be highly processed with lots of refined sugars and fat.
- Stock your cupboards with healthy plant-based choices, like whole grain crackers, oatmeal , and popcorn.
- Add a variety of nuts and juice-packed fruits for easy and yummy snacks that provide nutrients as well.
- If you do have chips, cookies and other high-sugar, high-fat, processed snacks, place them on higher shelves and preferably out of sight so they are harder to reach. Remember the old saying “out of sight, out of mind”.
Make it easier for you and your family to eat healthy with these simple changes—it’s not just a makeover for your kitchen, it’s a makeover for your health.