You're on the path to eating healthier, working out regularly and tracking your daily food choices. Let's make that last goal a little bit easier by giving your pantry a makeover. Cleaning out your pantry, cupboards and refrigerator won't just make your inner neat freak happy, it'll set you up to succeed.
Think about it: You're way less likely to overindulge in chips, cookies and other processed foods if they're not in your house, right? So when you're hungry, you'll reach for an apple and peanut butter or celery and hummus rather than ice cream.
How to Decide What to Toss Out
First of all, junk the junk food. You know what items we're talking about — those sugary and salty treats that you instantly crave when you're stressed out or beyond hungry. The truth is, you don't need that kind of temptation around. If you can't live without a little indulgence, put it away in a little-used cabinet or above eye level.
And while you're in your pantry and refrigerator, toss anything that's beyond its expiration date. There's no use risking food-borne illness by consuming months-old salad dressing.
Now take a look at what you have left. Reading the nutrition label should be your first step. If you can't pronounce an ingredient, it has more than five ingredients or a ton of added sugar, decide whether you'll toss it or keep it on a higher shelf.
If you feel bad tossing out unopened boxes of mac 'n' cheese and cans of cheddar broccoli soup, donate those items to you local food bank (assuming, of course, they're not past expiration).
Restock Your Cleaned-Out Pantry
Restocking your kitchen with nutritious food and keeping healthy staples on hand will guarantee your success. Aim for whole foods like lean meats and seafood, beans and lentils, whole-wheat pasta and a wide range of fruits and vegetables.
And when you're in the grocery store, remember this helpful tip: Primarily shop the perimeter of the store. That's where all the fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood will be. The aisles of the store contain mostly processed foods. And while you may want to still grab some canned beans or frozen vegetables, that's not where the bulk of your shopping should happen.
Also important to keep in mind is the fact that you're not on a fad diet; you're making a healthier lifestyle choice for the long run. You need to shop for foods that will give you a bigger nutritional bang for your buck.
If this is a battle, then your kitchen is the war room. It's where you plan your long-term strategy and manage your arsenal. To make sure your war room is properly equipped, you should:
- Replace junk food with healthy snack alternatives like nuts, fruits, veggies, etc.
- Prep as much as possible in advance and portion out individual meals for grab-and-go ease.
- Shop smart and restock your kitchen with the right foods.
If your fridge and pantry are stocked with healthy foods, then you'll feel great everything you eat and the small indulgences you do enjoy won't make you feel guilty (it's about living, not deprivation). You'll see the payoff in your energy levels, your waistline and your overall health.
The LIVESTRONG.COM team is here to make sure you win each daily battle AND win the war. So go whip your war room into shape and prepare for combat.
Get Extra Help for Healthy Grocery Shopping
Heading to the supermarket to stock up on healthy essentials can be daunting. But don't worry; you're not doing this alone. Here are some helpful resources to get you grocery shopping like a pro:
How to Join the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge
Are you a part of the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge yet? If not, here are four easy steps to make sure you're on your way to getting stronger this year.
1. Sign Up for Daily Emails
There are two main places this challenge is taking place online — your inbox and our Facebook group (more on that in a second). So first, make sure you've entered your email to sign up for the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge. (Yep, even if you're already signed up for our regular daily newsletter.)
Every day, we'll be sending you your daily workout and a healthy recipe to try, along with fun extras like workout playlists, motivational quotes, self-care tips and other fitness and nutrition information to make 2019 your best (and healthiest) year ever!
2. Print Out Your Calendars
Isn't it so satisfying to check things off of your to-do list? Each day during the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge, you're accountable for two main things: working out and eating healthy.
To help keep you on track for the entire month, we created two calendars — one with each day's workouts listed and another with each week's nutrition goal and healthy recipes. Print them out and check off each workout and day of healthy eating as you complete it.
3. Join Our Challenge Facebook Group
For daily support, motivation and camaraderie with LIVESTRONG.COM team members, join our Facebook Group for the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge. We'll share recipes, tips, motivations, pictures and more! Plus, we'll answer all your questions.
4. Share Your Journey on Social Media
Are you on Instagram or Twitter? So are we! And we'd love to see photos and updates of your progress. When you post to social media, be sure to use the hashtag #GetStrongChallenge. That way, you can also connect with other Get Strong challengers!