2016 is almost over (thank goodness!) and moving into 2017 it’s time to reevaluate life goals and expectations. Probably the number one resolution people make at the beginning of each new year is to work on their health. Since eating plans and diets can be so different for each person, I’m not going to talk about what you should be eating (I’m also not a nutritionist…so). Instead, I’m going to be giving you tips on how to prepare your kitchen so at least one thing in your life will help maximize your goals!
CHOOSE YOUR PLAN
I hesitate to say the word “diet” due to such negative connotations but whatever you call it, one of the most proven ways to stick to a diet is to have a plan. Most diets require a bit of prep work before you jump in. For an eating plan like Whole 30, you will need a solid 2-3 days of prep time. Alternatively, for a plan like WeightWatchers that allows you to eat smaller portions of your “regular” foods, you may only need a day of prep. No matter what, choose an eating plan that works for you. I’ve done both of the ones mentioned above and the plan I thrived on was Whole30. That doesn’t mean it’s for everyone though. I succeeded because I loved the challenge of completing it and since I already drink my coffee black with no sugar, I wasn’t hit with rejection the moment I woke up! That being said, I think both are great for very different reasons and whatever plan you choose, read over the requirements and rules very carefully prior to beginning.
You guessed it, one of my favorite words on this blog is purge. When you are organizing for a new eating plan or diet, it is extremely important to go through your pantry and fridge and purge any items that could be problematic. For example, if your fridge is full of cheese and you can only have 1 ounce a day but normally you can’t stop until the brick is gone, you need to get rid of that cheese! Now, if you live with a roommate, significant other, or family, this may not be possible. Instead, assign yourself a shelf or two of the fridge and a cabinet in the kitchen that is yours. Know that this is the food you are allowing yourself to eat and stay focused. Willpower is a huge factor here but so is following an eating plan! Make sure to purge at least 2-3 days prior to starting your eating plan and either eat up or donate the food you won’t be using during your diet. I know many diet gurus say “don’t start on Monday, start now” but if you go in without properly prepping (and purging trigger foods), this may be setting you up for failure.
After purging and shopping, it’s time to organize those cabinets and that fridge. This basically should allow you to open up these doors and easily grab something that is on your eating plan. Whether that be cut carrots, apples, individual packets of almond butter, or kale chips, make sure these snacks are easily accessible. While grazing typically just stems from boredom, the first few days of a new eating plan can be the hardest and you may need a little something to get you by.
GET THE RIGHT KITCHEN TOOLS
This is so important! Nothing stalls your progress more than guessing if the meat you are putting on your plate is actually 4 ounces or if the homemade mayonnaise you are making could be done much easier with an emulsifying blender (I speak from experience). Look through popular recipes on the eating plan and get the tools you need. Scales, measuring cups, stick blenders, cheese clothes, etc. rarely cost more than $30 each and will make it easier for you to prep your food. Also, be sure to get good containers to store your food and to take your lunch to work. It is so much easier to stay on plan when you bring your own food with you. I prefer glass because they clean more easily than plastic (especially for red sauces and soups) but use whatever will make you stay on plan.
GET TO COOKIN’
Before your plan starts, make at least 2-3 dishes that you can use for the first few days. Attach a post-it note to the container that states how much is a serving for your plan (and a KEEP AWAY for any nosy housemates) Starting out this way means it will be easier to choose the right food when you come home after working 10 hours or to screaming kids or both. When I did Whole 30, I made Sunday my prep day and would spend anywhere from 4-6 hours cooking for the week ahead. Many plans aren’t quite that intensive but if you can budget time to do this for yourself, you’re more likely to succeed.
CREATE A MEAL PLAN
Some plans already have meals organized for you, while others have you do it on your own. Whichever one you choose, try to write down what you plan to eat for at least the next 3 days and for the whole week if you can do it. This will also help remind you of work lunches, dinners out, or birthday parties that pop up. Knowing what your eating also helps you defend against the sneak attack by the chocolate chip cookies that you didn’t realize were coming to this event. (Hint, hint– A great organizing tool for weekly meals can be found here!)
REEVALUATE AFTER DAY 4
Anybody can get through four days of an eating plan, hell you might be able to get through the first week unscathed with that twinkle in your eye that you just started a new, healthier lifestyle (high five!). But there will come a point when you get tired and for some people that happens more quickly than for others.
Sit down, take a breath, push that bowl of potato chips away, and think about what to do next. What isn’t working for you?
Is food too hard to access? Then you probably need to cook more so you can take your food with you wherever.
Are you getting hungry at inconvenient times and don’t have healthy options? Throw snacks in your bag or purse before leaving every single day.
Is it too difficult to go out to eat with friends? (Hello, Whole 30) Then eat before you go or just profusely apologize to the server that you are following a strict diet prior to giving your highly annotated order!
Is your family sabotaging your diet? Are they, really… or are you just using them as an excuse? Growing up with a mom who tried a few eating plans in her day, I never remember begging my mom to eat the pizza I was eating. (Sorry if I did, mom!)
Do you not want to make two meals for the people who live in your house? Hold up a moment. The only way I will accept this as a true excuse is if you are a single parent with kids under 13 (and even a 12-year-old can open a can of soup and throw it in the microwave). Otherwise, the other people in your household need to be helping (and supporting) you. If they claim they aren’t good cooks, teach them how to do a few basic recipes until you have time to help out again. And remember the Get To Cookin’ step above so that you can at least plan your own meals in advance. Better yet, get them on a modified version of your eating plan. I don’t promote putting kids on a diet, but as long as it’s safe and healthy for you… it’s probably safe and healthy for them. And if you’re S.O. is complaining, tell them to go stuff it!
After you make it through your roadblocks, re-organize your kitchen to help combat them. Maybe you can’t actually have a separate shelf of the pantry because you just keep going for those funyons. So take all of your food out of the pantry and put into a separate cupboard. Maybe the food your making would be easier with a kitchen tool you don’t have. Then go out and buy that product, especially if you think you’ll use it everyday. (If you’re on a budget, see if there is a used version or a cheaper generic version – I’m thinking a blender here.)
Most importantly, keep reevaluating every few days for whatever amount of time you plan on being on the eating plan. It will help keep you on track, even if you slip up once or twice. After all, you’re only human and fries are only golden pillows of deliciousness.
For extra support – turn to the internet! There are a plethora of bloggers, instagrammers, youtubers, etc. who write for the diet plan you are going to choose. My suggestions for each diet plan I mentioned above are:
Whole30 Recipes on Instagram – They have guest bloggers for a week who churn out amazing recipes. While the recipes in the Whole30 book are great, these add a bit of flair.
Kelly Jean Eats Clean – Kelly Jean is new to the blogger world but she’s been writing forever. She has great tips and tricks to eat clean. The best thing is that, just like Pinnochio, she’s a real girl! She will be doing the January Whole30 so you can read her journey if you’re too scared to jump in yourself or you need the support! Full disclosure, Kelly is a dear friend of mine but this is also why I trust her to churn out some amazing posts on clean eating!
Skinnytaste – Ok, normally I stay away from anything with “skinny” in the name, but I’ve followed this site via Facebook for a couple of years. I think the recipes are interesting and she always posts calories and smart points for those doing WeightWatchers.
WWMissBailey on Instagram – This lady has taken WeightWatchers to heart and done a wonderful job. She often posts recipes or ideas plus success pics (she’s lost and kept off 85 pounds for a couple of years now, all due to WeightWatchers).
My hope is that organizing your kitchen to work for you during your diet, eating plan, or lifestyle change, leads to good, healthy decisions throughout 2017. Goodluck!
What are some of your favorite eating plans or diet tips to keep you on track? Comment below!