Set yourself up for better nutrition in the New Year by clearing out your foods that are high in calories but low in nutritional value. When you get rid of processed foods you will be making room for healthier pantry items like nuts, legumes, and whole grains.
Purging the shelves of packaged foods that are high in refined carbs and sodium, and low in fiber will help you start fresh and limit temptations to resort to these convenience foods in a pinch.
Clear Out: Chips, cookies, soda, sugary cereals, pre-seasoned rice and noodle/pasta mixes, white bread products, packaged baked goods, candy, and baking mixes. This is also a good time to check your expiration dates!
Stock Up: Dried or canned beans (low sodium), oatmeal (rolled or steel-cut), brown rice, whole wheat pasta, barley, quinoa, lentils, nuts, nut butters, whole wheat flour, canned tomatoes (no added salt), extra virgin olive oil, canned tuna and salmon.
Keep it Clean: Keep your pantry clean and full of healthier items. To make sure you keep empty-calorie choices out of the pantry, be sure to start reading food labels at the grocery store. Read the ingredient list, remembering that the ingredients are listed in order of greatest to lowest volume in the item. Aim low (5% of daily value or less) in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium. Buy foods higher in fiber by switching to whole grain products.
Give Back: Consider donating the food items you’ve cleared out along with items like canned beans, and stuffing mixes to local food pantries: They are always looking for donations this time of year. Need help finding your local food pantry? Find Your Local Food Bank on the Feeding America Website.
Written with Gigi Rutherfurd, Dietetic Intern