If you’re ready to make the jump to clean eating, do yourself a favor and clean your fridge first.
By pulling everything out of your fridge and freezer, you’ll be able to take inventory of the healthy foods you already have on hand, and those not-so-healthy items it’s time to toss. And of course, if your new healthy lifestyle includes a meal delivery service like Nutrisystem, there’s the added benefit of clearing space for all of the perfectly portioned food coming your way.
Pulling all the current contents out of your fridge and determining if they jive with your new healthy lifestyle and desired weight loss success is only half the battle. You’ll also want to give your refrigerator interior a thorough clean. By using a quality fridge cleaner solution, you can press the “reset” button with a deep cleaning! We’re talking a top-to-bottom, meticulous scrub-down of every shelf, bin, drawer, crisper and handle. This is the best way to ensure that the healthy foods you place back inside your fridge are safe to enjoy.
Don’t make scrubbing your fridge a one-time thing. Since the conditions inside a refrigerator are optimal for mold growth, and food and drink spills enable cross-contamination, experts recommend using antibacterial wipes to sanitize your fridge weekly. They also advise that you take the time to wipe up spills inside your fridge with these wipes as soon as they happen. You should also wipe down the handles on the exterior of your fridge since they’re a prime spot for germs to spread. With the seasons changing, it’s the perfect time to spruce up your refrigerator. Spring clean your way to weight loss with these simple tips! >
Oh, and don’t forget to check the temperature of your fridge interior. According to Michigan State University, food spoilage organisms or food pathogens could be lurking in your food. They explain that food spoilage organisms can include different forms of bacteria, mold, fungi or yeast. They grow slowly at the cool temperatures found in the refrigerator, eventually causing food to deteriorate and develop a bad taste, odor and appearance. While eating spoiled food might be enough to make you gag, if you happen to bite into something that’s been spoiled, you may not experience any significant side effects, says Michigan State University.
On the other hand, food pathogens can make you very sick. According to Michigan State University, these microbes include bacteria, parasites and viruses that are responsible for illnesses commonly referred to as “food poisoning.” The scariest thing about this type of pathogen is that it often does not impact the smell, appearance or flavor of food, which means you won’t have any warning signs that it is present.
One of the best defenses against food pathogen bacteria is ensuring that the temperature of your fridge stays at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, says the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Since these bacteria grow most rapidly in the infamous “Danger Zone” temperature range of 40 to 140 degrees, keeping the interior of your fridge at this temperature will help prevent growth. Just be mindful that the shelves on the refrigerator doors experience more fluctuation in temperature since they are the most exposed to outside air every time the fridge is opened. It’s best to keep perishables like cheese, meats and poultry inside the fridge.
OK, so you know you should clean your fridge and ensure it’s operating on all cylinders. But what about once you’ve checked those boxes?
Organize your refrigerator to support your new healthy lifestyle with these simple tips:
1. Make sure your healthy food is highly visible… you’ll eat more of it.
Cleaning out your fridge means tossing questionable leftovers and items past their expiration date, leaving lots of space for your new healthy foods. Nothing sets the stage for a healthy lifestyle and weight loss success like a nice, clean fridge full of fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and of course, healthy hydration picks.
As you stock your fridge, keep this in mind: Studies have found that when healthy options are easy to see, people tend to eat more of them. According to two separate 2016 studies, published in Health Education & Behavior, the presence of fresh fruit in plain sight was linked to lower Body Mass Index (BMI) in study participants. That’s probably because when the fruit was left in a bowl on the kitchen counter, it was top of mind for participants when hunger hit.
Once you clean out your fridge, don’t just stock it with healthy food options. You’ll also want to make sure those healthy fruits, vegetables and snacks are highly visible so they’re front and center when you get the urge to splurge. Put your fruits and vegetables at eye level and store prepared foods and salads in clear containers so they’re in plain sight.
2. Don’t even keep temptations in your fridge.
When you clear out your fridge, expand your focus beyond expired foods. Toss (or donate) anything that isn’t consistent with your new lifestyle. By removing the unhealthy options from your now healthy refrigerator, you’ll also remove the possibility that you can fall off track and derail your weight loss motivation. Plus, when cravings do strike, you won’t have the option to overindulge. If an orange is all you have when you’re craving something sweet, an orange is what you’ll eat, right?
If you live with loved ones who aren’t as committed to healthy eating, make sure you push their less healthy options to the back of the fridge. In the same 2016 studies cited above, when candy, cereal and soda were visible on kitchen counters, study participants were found to weigh as much as 30 pounds more than people who kept those foods stashed away. Out of sight, out of mind… and out of your mouth!
3. Establish a system to make staying on track easier.
As with everything, consistency is key. There’s just something about having a system down pat that helps you stick with a new routine. So, when you clean your fridge, use it as an opportunity to establish an organized system that makes it easy to eat healthy and stick with it. This will help you prepare quick and simple dinner recipes for you and the family while promoting lasting health and wellness!
Once you’ve taken everything out of your fridge, decide where you will put each different food type moving forward. You may even want to consider adding labels to the shelves and drawers, so you stick with the location rules you establish.
If you always keep strawberries, blueberries and raspberries on the right-hand side of the second shelf, you’ll know exactly where to head when you need a fast snack. If string cheese and hardboiled eggs are always kept in the center drawer, you won’t spend any time or energy sorting through other foods to find them. Plus, if you keep your foods in the same place every time, it will be easy to see when you’re running low on all of your staples.
Turn to the delicious and healthy recipes created by The Leaf experts that can help you stay on track with your weight loss and newly refreshed fridge!