Does your kitchen and pantry support your new and improved dedication to health and wellbeing? Just like we want our home be a sanctuary, the kitchen is a big part of that as most people consider it the heart of the home. In counseling clients trying to make lifestyle changes, specifically for weight reduction, some of the resistance I encounter when I ask why processed food is even in the house, is that, “it is there for the kids”. After I laugh, I suggest that their kids (and kids’ friends) should not be eating that stuff either! That’s when opposition rears its head, as if it’s the accepted norm for kids to eat junk food and their health will be resilient to it forever. I only wish I knew in my teens, 20s and 30s what I know now about nutrition through Ayurveda, meditation & yoga practice, and how much can be done to prevent dis-ease before it starts and how we can support longevity through our choices that nurture our unique nature. It’s so much easier to learn healthy lifestyle habits when you are young rather than after you have acquired bad habits (and possibly an illness) because of stress and lack of time when all the responsibilities of a multi-tasked life have taken over. But many people are already there, and it doesn’t help to beat ourselves up over what was, but rather to make slow, conscious changes that can support a life of health, vitality, healing, and happiness and decrease the continuation of habits that will inevitably lead to illness and possibly an early death.
A pantry and kitchen that favors healthy, organic, local, seasonal and natural foods and beverages over FLUNC foods (Frozen, Leftover, Unnatural, Nuked and Canned) will support your efforts when temptation is there to throw you off track. This is only until you get used to how good you will feel when you learn to listen to your healthy body as to what foods contribute to true nourishment, ease of digestion and elimination and good health, and it is rarely the ones with labels! So take a good look at your pantry and in your refrigerator. Foods without labels are the best, but if there are labels, look out for too many ingredients, chemicals, unnecessary additives like MSG and dyes, excess salt, white flour and white sugar, and especially HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). I was very disturbed one time when I couldn’t find one bottle of Balsamic vinegar that didn’t have caramel color! Why balsamic vinegar needs a color additive is beyond me, but these are the questions we should all start to ask and send a message by not purchasing them. Many of these additives are also in the pharmaceuticals that you may be taking (listed as “inactive” ingredients), as well as in products you may use on your body and in your mouth, but that is a subject for another post and should also be considered. Check expiration dates and get rid of food, beverages, condiments or spices that are not fresh and outdated. Get rid of your microwave; it will save counter space and food tastes better when cooked in the oven or on the stove with fresh herbs and spices. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and if you do eat meat/eggs/dairy, be sure it is wild caught/free range, grass fed, organic and antibiotic-free from animals that have not been tortured and mercilessly slaughtered. Let your pantry, fridge and kitchen reflect the healthy choices you are now making for yourself and your family. Keep the workspace in your kitchen clean and clutter-free so you are not stressed when preparing and consuming food and cook with love.
Many times when we are tempted to go for something that doesn’t support our goals, it is not because we are hungry physically, but hungry for something else. Take a moment to tune in and see what it is you are truly needing in that moment. Just that mindfulness can go a long way in helping you make better choices. So enjoy your clean and healthy pantry and kitchen and set an example for the kids and their friends. You will be doing yourself (and them) and great favor! ; )
Dr. Joanna Carmichael is an RN, Doctor of Metaphysics & Divinity, Interfaith Minister, Ayurveda, Meditation & Yoga Practitioner, Spiritual Teacher and animal activist.