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by: Josephine Holgado

When I attended the penultimate or the fifth session of the Complete Health Improvement Program (C.H.I.P.) at the Wellness land Health Institute in Cebu and facilitated by my good friend, Doc Romy Paredes, last April 14, 2019, each participant has been assigned to discuss the ingredients of two popular food or drink that are commonly consumed and found in the groceries or supermarket. We were asked to discuss the side effects of these ingredients especially the unfamiliar names and numbers that we see on the labels. I realized that most if not all are usually found in our kitchen, pantry or refrigerator like the tetra pack fruit juices, hotdog, luncheon meat, ketchup, wheat bread, 3 in 1 coffee, milk, cookies, chocolates, potato chips, tea, seasoning, soda, butter and cheese.

If you want a healthier you this season, you have to do these 4 easy steps to organize your kitchen.


Remove all unhealthy food, drink and ingredients. Read the label. If there is refined sugar, oil, or food coloring especially the names containing letters with numbers like FD& C Yellow # 5, FD & C Yellow # 6 or Allura red 40, throw them away. The latter three azo dyes are used to augment the colors of powdered juices, fruit juices in tetra packs and processed food like cured meat and hotdogs. Some studies revealed that you have a risk of developing allergies, cancer, tumors and even symptoms of ADHD in children which may range from hyperactivity, learning impairment and decreased attention span.


The optimal diet entails eating less fats and oil, sugars, foods containing cholesterol, salt and alcohol and caffeine. Choose lean meat or better yet, go meatless. Strictly limit the use of cooking oil, even extra virgin olive oil in your salad, sauces or dressing because the best oil is still no oil. Avoid refined sugar or limit the use of honey, cane sugar or molasses, especially in desserts. Avoid cured meat, crackers and other salted snacks like nuts, chips and pretzels. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea and soft drinks.

On the other end of the spectrum of the optimal diet, you must eat more whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables. Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily.


Learn to prepare healthy, nutritious and delicious food. Cook whole food, plant based, low fat and high fiber meals. Choose mostly whole grains which are best stored in airtight containers like whole grain pasta, whole grain wheat, rolled oats, gluten free quinoa and gluten free brown rice. Here are some pantry basics that you cannot do without like low sodium soy sauce, unsweetened apple sauce, dried herbs and spices, soy or non-dairy milk fortified with Calcium and B12 and nutritional yeast flakes. You choose fresh fruits and vegetables which are either grown bio dynamically or organically and preferably in season. Other baking essentials are baking powder, corn starch, coconut syrup and agar agar powder. Have meat alternatives like tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils and nuts. Legumes which can be dry or canned but low sodium are best stored in airtight containers like black beans, garbanzos or chickpeas, black eyed peas and kidney beans. You can use nuts and seeds which are raw and unsalted like almonds, cashews, peanuts, flax seeds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds which are best stored in the fridge or freezer if not used quickly. Sweeteners like molasses, stevia, pitted dates or prunes and coconut syrup should also be handy in the kitchen staples. However, the nuts, seeds and sweeteners are high in calories and should be used sparingly. You can also create your own salt substitute seasoning using your favorite herbs and spices.


Learn how to make good choices despite paucity of selection.  Be deliberate in choosing what food to eat. If you are traveling, look for good restaurants that serve healthy food prior to your departure or scout near your hotel.  However, it is much better to bring your own food when you travel especially when there are limited choices in the airport and your destination. For fruit juices, you may ask the waiter to separate the sugar from the juice. In the main entrée, you can also request the chef to remove the meat from the meal. As for the salad, you can skip the dressing or ask for one without the mayonnaise, processed cheese or oil.

It is time to have a kitchen makeover when you C.O.O.K. (Clean, Opt, Open, Know)


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