Starting a new way of eating is challenging enough, but if you don’t have some “safe” ingredients in your house you will quickly experience a meltdown.
If possible, start by cleaning all the junk out of your cupboards (take it to a food shelter if you can’t bring yourself to throw it out). Take out sodas, fruit juices and cocktails, chips, cookies, pop tarts, canned or boxed meals with more than 5 ingredients or things like sugar in the top 5, pizzas, bread, and for the super hard core, get the dairy out too!
Now I know some of you have partners and kids who “didn’t sign on for this”, you have a couple options, one is to tell them it’s for everyones best health and tough (my experience is this is not always well received) or to limit the offending food to a cupboard you do not have to go into for the food you will be eating (it is always easier if you don’t have to see it, so keep it away from the crisper drawer in the fridge and out of the cupboard with your brown rice, quinoa, tuna etc). And get some healthy cookbooks with kid and spouse friendly recipes, if it doesn’t look like diet food they will more likely eat it and then everyone is at least eating the same supper. I love Tosca Reno’s “Eat Clean Cookbooks” she has several out now. There are also great recipes in “The Wheatbelly Book” and “The Virgin Diet” books and very tasty.
My recommendation though is at least at first to cook without anyone in the kitchen, if they don’t know what it is they may just eat it (quick side note, when I bought black bean spaghetti noodles to try they looked exactly like what the other noodles looked like but because my kids had seen the package they extremely hesitantly tried them and then swore they tasted awful! However, they were eating them on their plates too just pre-sauced before they came to the table!)
Some Staples to have on hand as you start your journey:
A great blender (ninja’s are great but whatever you have will be fine)
Spices….be open to trying new spices on your veggies, Cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, cayanne pepper, spike salt alternative, whatever but do be careful with rubs and mixes….SUGAR is usually the first or second ingredient (funny story, after 7 years I finally got my hubby to start reading spice labels on the rubs he loves…by the time we got done reading all the ingredient labels he had found 2 to use that didn’t have sugar!)
Veggies, don’t go crazy or you”ll get irritated about them going bad before you got to eat them (produce has a shelf life and it is less than a week–just know now you will have to stop for produce twice a week or more to keep it fresh). A great alternative to fresh is frozen…PLAIN frozen, not the stuff covered in sauces! and just skip the canned, they have already cooked the nutrients out of them and then over salted it!
Fruit, same as above, and we want more veggies than fruit anyway. Fresh is best, frozen is good to have on hand and stay away from the smoothie mixes, there is sneaky sugar added to most of them.
Brown rice, Wild rice, Quinoa are nice additions to meals, the longer they have to cook the closer to nature they are so buy the slow cook stuff, cook up a batch once a week and freeze it to have on hand for lunches and quick meal prep later in the week.
Meats, clean, no spices or sauces or coatings as you get started. Learn to re-appreciate the meat as it is, it’s quite likely that the pre-seasoned stuff has some sugar in the seasoning! (kinda starts to piss a person off!)
Nuts….Nuts are a good fat, not a protein, yes there is protein in them but there is protein in broccoli too and I doubt you thought lets replace the meat with broccoli! Nuts are my personal downfall, I struggle with just eating 1 serving (that’s 8 almonds!) and I have come to the conclusion that since I can’t eat them responsibly that I won’t keep them in the house. If I want nuts I have to go to the store and buy a single serving pack!
Good Fats and Cooking oils…You need to have some fat in your diet! Otherwise your body won’t release the stored fat. Olive oil and Coconut oil are your healthiest options. NOT vegetable oil….it is over processed, turns to poison as you cook with it. And definitely NOT canola oil….good grief, the food companies have really sold us a lot of misinformation on this one…it is too processed and your body doesn’t know what to do with it. And watch your spray cans too, olive oil comes in a spray can as well.
Do NOT buy anymore margarine, not a real food! If you are going to keep dairy in your diet (and I don’t recommend it, aside from being full of antibodies it is designed to get a 500# calf to 2000# in a year, what do you think it is doing to you?!) Calcium is more readily available to you through your dark green leafies like spinach and kale…stick to them! But if you “need” your yogurt I challenge you to read every label, remember, no added sugar! Many flavored yogurts have as much sugar as a can of soda.
No more bread for now either. Maybe later after you rediscover the beauty and flavor of veggies and fruit, but not while you are trying to lose weight and get healthier. Again the food companies have really messed with bread, from sugar and artificial sweeteners to the grains just not really being all that good for you, wheat today is not your great grandma’s wheat. I can hear it now, “but how will I eat all those fruits and veggies if not in a sandwich?” The hardcore in me says, “raw!” but there are vegetable soups, salads and plain options available to you!