Healthy Kitchen Cupboards

If you feel heavy and your energy is low, a great way to lighten up is to clear out your kitchen cupboards and stock up with only nourishing foods.

 When I hit my 50’s, I didn’t exactly hit the ground running. I was unfit, tired most of the time and 10 kilo’s overweight. I was bored with life and had no energy for quality time at the weekends. It was time to take stock of my health.

This was one of those times when I was reminded by the universe that I am mortal. I realised that optimum energy levels can only be sustained if I consciously take care of my health. I don’t want to be 90 years old and immobile. I want to be 90 years old, have good health, walk with the dogs, be independent and skip for 4 minutes every morning.

I kick-started my new lifestyle with a serious clear out of the kitchen cupboards. My new mindset was forming and I took great pleasure in clearing out foodstuffs that no longer served me. Since then the kitchen cupboard cleaning is a yearly ritual and happens in November. It’s refreshing to have healthy Kitchen Cupboards to start a new year.

Kitchen Cupboard Clear Out

The over-riding principle to healthy eating is to keep as close to natural foods as possible. Highly processed foods are top on the list for clearing out.

You will find sugar, salt and saturated fat added to processed foods. When it comes to sugar and salt I remember the rule “the more, the more” meaning the more you eat, the more you want to eat. That is why we have sweet cravings or cravings for savoury foods.

The best way to reduce the cravings is to follow the rule “the less, the less.”

Many processed foods contain artificial preservatives for long shelf life, and additives to create texture, colour and enhance the flavours.

Natural foods contain salt, sugars and fats and a balanced diet that includes a good variety of whole food will provide enough of these tasty ingredients to maintain good health.

Did you know you can get peanut butter with no added salt and no added sugar? I love peanut butter.

The Guideline for Added Salt

Added salt – Less than 140 milligrams per serving is considered low

DV (Daily Values) Less than 5% per serving is low, higher than 20% is too high.

About Added Salt and Hypertension

The Guideline for Added Sugar

The American Heart Association recommends women consume no more than 100 calories (24 grams) of added sugar per day; men, no more than 150 calories (36 grams) per day.

1 teaspoon of sugar = 4 grams.

About Added Sugar and Diabetes

Other Health Issues

The health hazards of consuming too many processed foods include Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Cardiovascular Disease, GallStones, Sleep Apnoea, Degenerative joint disease and Food Addictions. Research also indicates that over-consumption of processed foods is a contributing factor to some types of Cancer.

Food additives to be aware of and to avoid

Artificial Sweeteners. Aspartame, (E951)

E951 is a sweetener used in snacks, drinks, alcohol, desserts and weight loss diet foods. Used to keep the food energy low and provide fewer calories. Reports indicate possible headaches, blindness and seizures with long-term use and high doses.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

HFCS is a manufactured sweetener made from corn starch and often compared to granulated sugar. The calorie/energy values of HFCS are slightly higher than sugar. HFCS is composed of 76% carbohydrates and 24% water and contains no essential nutrients. HFCS has replaced sugar in many processed foods and beverages, mostly because it is cheaper to manufacture.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG / E621)

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavour enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups, processed meats, and savoury snacks. MSG is high in sodium (salt) and has been shown to cause increased blood pressure when consumed over a long period of time.

MSG has been used as a food additive for decades. Reports of adverse symptoms over the years include;

  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Sweating
  • Tightness in face
  • Burning sensations on face and neck
  • Heart palpitations and chest pains
  • Nausea
  • Feeling weak

Researchers have found no definitive evidence of a link between MSG and these symptoms however, they do acknowledge that a small percentage of people may have short-term reactions to MSG.

Trans Fats

Transfats raise your bad (LDL)cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL)cholesterol levels. Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Sodium Sulphite(E221)

Sodium sulphite is a soluble salt of the sulphuric acid. It is used as a preservative to prevent dried fruit from discolouring, and for preserving meats.

Other uses include the development process in photography, reducing chlorine levels in pools. In boiler systems, sulphite and bi-sulphite are the most commonly used to prevent pitting corrosion.

Frequent consumption causes headaches, intestinal and stomach upsets, allergies, bronchial problems, low blood pressure and anaphylactic shock. It is best to avoid them if you suffer from bronchial asthma, cardiovascular or respiratory problems and emphysema.

SodiumNitrate/Sodium Nitrite

Sodium nitrate is widely used to preserve meat products such as bacon, Vienna sausages, luncheon meat, hot dogs and sausages.

Research indicates that Sodium nitrate can impact on heart health. Processed meats have been identified as contributing to the causes of colon cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly occurring cancer in men and the second most commonly occurring cancer in women.

BHA (butylatedhydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) (E320)

These are preservatives. BHA is used for keeping fats from turning rancid. BHTdoes same and also preserves food flavour, colour and smell. These two preservatives can be in found in cereal, baked goods, animal feeds, snack foods, chewing gum, meats, butter, dehydrated potatoes, beer and many more processed foods, oh and cosmetics.

The experts say that microdoses of chemical preservatives can do no harm. But this example where E320 can be found in many foods is more concerning if you are the habit of eating convenience foods on a regular basis.

Research about these two preservatives is confusing. Some suggest that low doses of BHA are toxic to cells, while high doses are protective—or the reverse, being small doses are safe, but high doses are harmful. We don’t actually know how BHA and BHT act in the human body.

This supports the habits of eating whole foods, fresh foods, checking food labels and steering clear of food additives that do “who knows what” to your body.

How to Read Food Labels

Check food labels to see what is added to the food, if you have doubts about what to clear out, let the nutritional values, the list of ingredients and your gut instinct be your guide.

Look at the Daily Values (DV’s) and the nutrient values. Then look at the ingredients which are listed separately from the nutritional values. A long list of ingredients is an indication of excessive processing.

The ingredients are listed in order of quantity, so when you find sugar or salt high on the list you know that the quantity is high.

With some practice, you will soon be able to identify the difference between the more healthy foods and highly processed foods.

How to read food labels

Teach the Children

It needs to be said that children are at risk of suffering from the health issues mentioned above earlier in life if they consume processed foods, unhealthy snacks, and sugar-loaded cool drinks on a regular basis.

Teach your children how to read food labels and set some parameters to guide them towards making healthy choices. You can make a game of it and turn it into a fun way of teaching them to be responsible for their own good health.

Prepare Your Mindset

Now you are going to dispose of food. I don’t feel comfortable throwing away food because there are too many hungry people in the world. However,you are throwing away unhealthy food products that do not possess the nutritional qualities that maintain good health.

When you bought these products, you were fooled and robbed. Food manufacturers market and sell products based on convenience. They use attractive packaging, emotional blackmail, and in some cases false advertising to entice you to buy their products.

Have you ever noticed jelly sweets that advertise fat-free on the packet? This is true and also quite obvious when you know about food values. However, jelly sweets are made from sugar and have no nutritional value, just empty calories. We are often treated like fools, and we are often fooled by smart advertising strategies.

You are about to experience the wonderful cleansing feeling of throwing away what does not serve you. Clearing out the old to prepare for the new and making space in your cupboards for healthy foods.

You might decide to line your shelves for a fresh look after you have cleared out your cupboard. Get some bright shelf lining paper or use wrapping paper, brown paper, old magazine paper or foil. Take a before and after photo and a selfie while you’re at it.

Franco my husband, has a rule about throwing stuff away, and that is “replace it before you throw it away”. You might decide to prepare for your cupboard cleansing by getting in some new healthy stock. Maybe you can look up some new recipes and stock up with the necessary ingredients.

Take a look at the Heart Foundation Website for lots of tasty recipes.

The Kitchen Cupboard Clear Out Lists

Canned FoodDry FoodsFrozen FoodsOther Foods
SpamWhite FlourLeftovers
4+ months old
Drinks with
added sugar
Cooked HamWhite SugarMeat / Poultry
9+ months old
Snacks and
Meat in gravyWhite RicePastry productsSauces
Fruit in SyrupCorn starchBaking pastryPreserves
Creamed VeggiesWhite PastaPizza ready
Canned SoupSweet biscuits
Crumbed &
Fish portions
Pasta in sauceCake mixesFish in sauceOils*
Fruit JamPudding mixesReady- made
Condensed MilkCustard Powder
CustardSauce mixes in
powder form
Rice PuddingMarinades
DessertsDried seasoning
mixes  i.e. Fish spice
SaucesPacket Soups
Ready made
Instant noodles

*Oils and spreads labelled as “partially hydrogenated.”This is a heating process that produces Trans Fats.

Suggested Food Swaps from and to …………

Canned foods – From multi-ingredient foods with savoury sauces and sweet syrups, to simple whole foods such as canned whole fruits and vegetables.

Dry foods – from highly processed grains and dried powder-based foods, to whole grains, nut flours and mixed grain flours.

Frozen-foods – from instant meals to essential ingredients including frozen vegetable, fruit, raw meat and poultry, plain fish and seafood.

Flavour enhancers – From ready-made marinade and sauces to home-made relish, sauces and dressings made from fresh herbs, dried herbs, fresh fruit and vegetables healthy oils lemon juice and various kinds of vinegar.

Drinks– From sugar-loaded soft drinks and sweetened fruit juices to WATER, natural fruit juices with no added sugar, WATER, coffee, tea, hot and cold herbal teas, and did I mention WATER?

Snacks– From potato chips, corn chips sweet or savoury biscuits, chocolate bars and candy to fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds and dark chocolate.

In Conclusion

Making small changes to the way you eat can make significant changes to your feeling of well-being and to your overall health. The lists are a guideline, you decide what must go and what can stay.

If you are feeding a family, knowing that consuming too many highly processed foods will ultimately lead to ill health, let them enjoy lifelong comfort in the foods that are rich in nutrients rather than short-term comfort from excess sugar or salt,

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