Winter months drag. And while the sleet, snow, and freezing temps might have you taking cover in the gym (hey, at least your bulk-up won’t suffer), it’s making your diet damn-near impossible to follow. Frozen pizzas, cases of beer, and three separate chipotle-ranch dressing bottles have made their home in your fridge. You’ve somehow stockpiled enough junk to sustain you for an apocalypse. And what you deem “healthy” in the grocery store has become more and more vague.
You need to clean out the crap. And we’re here to help. Here are the items you need to remove from your fridge and pantry, pronto, and the healthy alternatives you can replace them with.
1. Trash high-calorie dips, spreads, and condiments
Bye-bye, nacho cheese sauce, French onion chip dip, blue cheese dressing, and mayo. In their place, swap a couple of varieties of salsa, vinaigrette dressings, mustard, and other low-carb steak, barbecue, and cocktail sauces that are free of added sweeteners.
2. Ditch fruit-on-the bottom yogurt
It’s typically more sugar than anything else. Instead, stick with sugar-free, plain variety (mix in your own fresh fruit and nuts for flavor), or Greek, which is loaded with protein.
3. Say goodbye to extra beer
Sure, you need one, maybe two some nights. But unless you’re having a party, only chill a couple at a time. If the beer isn’t there, available and cold, you’ll be much less likely to overdo it on a nightly basis.
4. Nix anything with trans fat
This includes products that claim to be “trans-fat free” but contain partially hydrogenated or fully hydrogenated oil. No exceptions.
5. Get rid of kids’ breakfast items
The closer an ingredient is to the top of the nutrition label, the more of it there is in the food. A quick rule of thumb: Never buy a cereal with more than 10 grams of sugar or less in three grams of fiber per serving. Another no-no: Pop-Tarts! Some flavors of the tooth-rotting belly expanders contain more than 40 ingredients. Forty! If you can’t pronounce something in your food, then you shouldn’t have that item.
6. Rid your kitchen of cheap snacks and sugary drinks
Rid yourself of all chips, pretzels, cookies, and candy—plus any bottles of sweetened soda or tea you have on hand. That means all of them. Out.
7. Stock up on lean proteins
Opt for chicken, turkey breast, fresh fish, and red meat. Buy in bulk at a wholesale grocery, split the family-size packages into smaller bags or containers, and freeze smaller servings to save money.
8. Load up on produce
Strive to eat things with one ingredient, the food itself. Broccoli. Spinach. Apples. Get it? Buy precut veggies to save time on prep. But only buy what you can eat one week at a time. Otherwise, the excess is bound to go to waste.
9. Invest in a big water pitcher
Get yourself a good water filter and keep it topped off at all times to prevent you from using wasteful plastic bottles. Every time you pour a glass, top off the filter so you have cold water at arm’s reach when you’re thirsty.
10. Always keep rolled oats and canned beans on hand
Eat the oats (not packages of instant oatmeal) with eggs for breakfast, and have beans as a side to your favorite protein at lunch or dinner. Shoot for a serving of one, if not both, of the lean, high-fiber, nutrient-dense options almost every day.
11. Shop for smarter snacks
Raw almonds, walnuts, pecans, and pistachios are good for you in small doses, and plain microwave popcorn (without butter) is a good guilt-free option, too.
12. Make tea a mainstay in your diet
Green tea gets all the attention, but black, white, and oolong are just as potent (in a good way). Compounds in tea may fight cancer, heart disease, depression, and fatigue, and they appear to be good for your brain (improving concentration and memory levels) and your waistline (fighting hunger and possibly even spiking calorie burn). Just don’t add sugar.