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Purge Your Pantry

The first thing you will want to do to adopt a diabetic and heart healthy eating lifestyle is purge your pantry, refrigerator and freezer of the foods that will work against your goals and cause temptation (whether the temptation is the food itself, or the desire for convenience).

We are not saying you must discard everything in your house that has any sodium, saturated fat, added sugar or highly refined starchy carbs in it, but certainly get rid of the ones that you know will cause the greatest temptation. If they are still good, give them away; if they’re opened or marginal, throw them out. Not only will you be removing foods that are harmful, you’ll also make room on your shelves for new, healthier items.

You might feel like this is wasteful. There are several ways you can make use of these items, but the most wasteful thing is “using up” foods that you now know can cause you harm. As an alternative, you could make bright labels for the foods you (or the patient) should avoid, and put them in a different place.  

The worst offenders will probably be junk food, highly processed foods, canned soups, frozen pizzas and dinners, frozen vegetables that are packed with high sodium sauces, sugary cereals, and the other sweets you might have on hand. It’s especially important to get rid of the things that will most tempt you (or the patient) to veer off course.

This purge will teach you your first new lifestyle skill: reading labels. You will want to check the nutritional content of everything you buy for sodium content, sugar, saturated or trans fats, and especially serving sizes.

Serving Size: pay special attention to the serving size on the label. Many food manufacturers make their foods look less harmful by using unrealistically small serving sizes. If a can of soup says it is 3 servings, with 800 mg. of sodium each, and you know you’re going to eat the whole can, your sodium intake for just that meal is going to be more sodium than you probably need for the entire day. Consider how many servings you really think that can, bag or item provides, and you’ll have a better idea of the real sodium/sugar/fat content.