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Healthy Kitchen

November 13, 2019

Announcer: Farm & Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about how to create a healthy kitchen environment. Hello, I'm Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm & Family. Today we're speaking with Turner Sanderson, Mississippi State University Dietetic Intern. Turner's going to share some tips on how to create a healthy kitchen environment that'll contribute to healthy lifestyle behavior. So, Turner, we're happy to have you here on air to discuss with us the importance of creating a healthy kitchen. Why is it important, creating a healthy kitchen environment?

Turner Sanderson: Hey, Amy. Thanks for allowing me to join you on air today to discuss the benefits of having a healthy kitchen environment. The kitchen environment is important because it is the center of most homes today, and it typically attracts the most attention. According to an article by the Washington Post, approximately 70% of meals are eaten at home by low to medium income families. If your kitchen is stocked with healthy foods, then the likely outcome will be that you will consume healthy foods. Personally, I have learned that when it comes to eating healthy, convenience is key.

Amy Myers: Yes, the home is certainly the foundation for healthy eating and healthy behavior. How and what do we need to stock our kitchens with to make eating healthy convenient?

Turner Sanderson: Well, that's a good question. The first steps in creating a kitchen for success is to plan ahead. Taking time to sit down and make a list of foods that you like is definitely beneficial and helps the process. If a portion of your list consists of food such as chips or ice cream or sodas, then think of healthy alternatives. Don't just do away with them. For example, look to replace the normal food items with baked chips, or low fat ice cream, or a diet soda. Now, of course a person should have more things on their list than the common soda and ice cream, but those things can stay on there, and the bulk of the list should be fruits and vegetables and lean meats, low fat dairy, and whole grains. You'd be surprised how just small changes in the kitchen can result in an impactful health change in the future.

Amy Myers: Is there a particular order that a person needs to organize their kitchen, or is it as simple as stocking with healthy food?

Turner Sanderson: There's no set way to organize the food in your kitchen, but there are a few tips to remember. First, organizing food according to their function can aid in the process of convenience. For example, if you locate all snacks in one particular container or a specific section of your pantry or cabinet, then they'll be easy to find. Having your foods separated into those certain groups will just save the time when you're on the quick and need to go. You can just grab it because you know where it's at.

Secondly, when organizing your kitchen implement the first in, first out method. This method works well to eliminate waste and prevent spoiling of food. Food safety is an essential component to a healthy kitchen environment. An example of implementing the first in, first out method would be to place older foods in front while placing the new foods in the back. For example, if last week you bought groceries and you bought a carton of milk and it was a quarter empty, but you bought a new carton this week, then you would put the new one behind the old one. That's first in, first out.

And lastly, keep healthy foods at eye level. That way your first thought, first attraction will be to the healthy foods other than the unhealthy foods.

Amy Myers: So thank you, Turner. Those are some helpful and practical tips for families to follow. To recap, I know you've talked about the kitchen being the center for most homes, convenience, planning ahead, choosing alternative foods, and separating foods by groups or function, implementing the first in, first out method, and placing foods in accessible locations. Is there anything else that listeners need to know when it comes to this?

Turner Sanderson: Yes. I do believe that all those tips previously mentioned are simple ways to create a kitchen that aids in healthy lifestyle behavior, but I would like to mention that the basis for which foods to eat and how much of each food to eat can be found on My Plate is the current nutrition guide published by USDA, the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. This website will provide several resources for children, students, and adults. One notable resource from this website is an online tool for eating on a budget. I would highly recommend it to someone that is interested in learning more about creating a healthy kitchen environment.

Amy Myers: This is very helpful information. Thank you for discussing this important topic with me today.

Turner Sanderson: Thanks for having me. I hope that it will help an individual or family successfully create a healthy kitchen environment.

Amy Myers: Today we've been speaking with Turner Sanderson, Mississippi State University Dietetic Intern. I'm Amy Myers, and this has been Farm & Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm & Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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