Your body is not the only thing that needs a good detox once in a while. When I mention detoxification, you probably think about something your body does to lose weight, support your liver, and generally feel and look better. Strange as it sounds, your kitchen could also use a good detox!
Most likely, the food industry holds your kitchen hostage. No doubt your cupboards and pantry are filled with ultra-processed fare. Detoxifying your kitchen allows you to escape these shackles and transform your kitchen to a place of wellness. A healthy kitchen provides the foundation for a healthy you.
If you make your kitchen a safe zone, with only foods that nourish rather than harm, then you will automatically make the right choices. If you fill it with crap, you will eat crap, no matter how much willpower you have.
The first step to detoxify your kitchen, then, is not to load it with junk and clear out whatever junk currently is stocking your cupboards. If its not there you won't eat it. It's that simple. If you have to get in your car and drive five miles you probably will skip that donut, cookie or ice cream. You are removing ways that you will unconsciously sabotage yourself.
I've created a four-step process to effectively detoxify your kitchen and restock it with healthy foods.
Step 1: Set aside an hour to purge your kitchen
Schedule it into your planner if you need to. This requires some detective work. Read food labels for added sugar and other junk ingredients that don't belong in a healthy kitchen. Have a big garbage bag ready (better yet, recycle containers if you can) to dump the junk. It might take longer depending on how much hidden junk and toxic ingredients lurk in your cupboard or fridge.
Step 2: Scrutinize labels
Ideally, you'll replace anything that is questionable with real fresh or whole foods without labels. A fresh avocado or a kiwi doesn't come with a nutrition facts label, or a bar code or ingredient list. If you decide to keep foods with labels, follow these rules:
- Focus on the ingredient list, not the "nutrition facts" that are mostly designed and developed under huge food industry lobby efforts to confuse and confound your efforts to eat healthy.
Now that you know what to look for, I'll walk you through the process of determining what can stay and what needs to take a permanent vacation on your kitchen detox.
Step 3: Ditch These Foods
When you detoxify your body, you eliminate harmful toxins. Likewise, when you detoxify your kitchen you'll want to get rid of any food that contains these harmful ingredients.
- You probably know obvious sugar culprits, but be aware of hidden sugars that lurk in salad dressings, processed foods, drinks, and even "healthy" foods like cereals and wheat. Sugar goes by many aliases. Just as boys named Andrew often go by Andy or Drew, sugar might be called organic cane juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, cane syrup, or molasses. There are 257 names for sugar, most made from corn with names that you wouldn't recognize, like maltodextrin and xanthan gum, which make you fat and addicted. Look carefully at condiments like salad dressing, barbecue sauce, or ketchup, which are often high-fructose corn syrup traps.
Step 4: Stock Up on These
Now that you've purged unhealthy foods, you want to replace kitchen cabinets and cupboards with fresh, healthy foods. These are the ones you'll want to load your kitchen with:
- Non-starchy veggies are freebies. Eat as many as you like! Limit fruits, which can become high in fructose and increase your insulin levels. Berries are your best bet. When possible, choose organic, seasonal, and local produce. When you can, avoid the most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables by consulting the Environmental Working Group's (www.ewg.org) "Dirty Dozen" list and instead choose from the "Clean Fifteen" list featuring the least-contaminated options. Just make sure you're buying unseasoned or unsweetened varieties. Also check out your local farmers market or community supported agriculture (CSA). You can find the one closet to you at www.localharvest.org.
- Boneless, skinless chicken and turkey breasts
- Ground chicken and turkey
- Lean cuts of beef, lamb, and bison (buffalo) meat
- Omega-3-enriched eggs
- Whole forms of non-GMO soy food, like tofu, tempeh, and gluten-free miso (organic, when possible)
- Wild or sustainably farmed, low-mercury seafood like sardines, salmon, herring, flounder, clams, crab, oyster, perch, pollock, shrimp, sole, squid, trout, whitefish etc. Avoid those fish that are high in mercury such as tuna, swordfish, and Chilean sea bass. Refer to the National Resources Defense Council website to download their wallet guide to choosing the fish lowest in mercury.
With these strategies, you're ready to begin detoxifying your kitchen. What food would you add that does or doesn't belong in your healthy kitchen? Share your thoughts below or on my Facebook fan page. If you want to go a step further and detox completely, I encourage you to join The 10-Day Detox Challenge.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, M.D.
Mark Hyman, M.D. believes that we all deserve a life of vitality -- and that we have the potential to create it for ourselves. That's why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform healthcare. He is a practicing family physician, an eight-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in his field. He is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a medical editor of The Huffington Post, and has been a regular medical contributor on many television shows including CBS This Morning, the Today Show, CNN, The View, the Katie Couric show and The Dr. Oz Show.