5 Steps to Setting up Your Kitchen for Dietary Change

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refrigerator full of healthy food. fruits, vegetables and dairy products

Making a diet and lifestyle change? Start by setting up your kitchen for dietary change! Whether you are looking to manage your weight, manage symptoms of arthritis, reduce headaches, manage your cravings, your energy levels and fatigue or treat your high blood pressure, successful diet change starts in the kitchen!

In this post, I want to share with you 5 steps for setting up your kitchen for dietary change.

5 Steps for setting up your kitchen for dietary change:

1) Identify and remove foods you are actively trying to eat less of! 


I am not a believer in restrictive diets – but I do believe in setting yourself up for success, and this starts by the kinds of foods you have in your house.

When you look in your fridge or pantry, what do you see?

Foods in your fridge or pantry will eventually be eaten, so if you are actively trying to eat less of a particular kind of food, why not remove it all together?  (or at least limit the quantity of this category of foods).

What kinds of foods should you eat less of? These are foods that are moving you away from your wellness and vitality. The kinds of foods that are draining you of energy. When I work with people, we start to build awareness of how foods impact how your body feels. With awareness, comes the ability to make more thoughtful and empowering choices that move you toward your own wellness and vitality.

You will note that I have not included an image here of sample foods to eat less of – that is because what foods we should eat less of is truly individual!

2)     Focus on the nourishing foods you need to eat more of!


There are so many amazing foods available but they aren’t on our routine list of foods to bring in our house. Maybe we hadn’t thought about eating this kind of food. Maybe we haven’t tried it because we have no idea of how to prepare it. Or we simply forgot about it.

For many of my clients, these are plant-based foods – vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plant-based fats. There is mounting evidence on the health-promoting properties of eating a plant-based diet for preventing and treating diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight management, and more!

Other foods to eat more of? Fish! Enjoying 150 grams of fish each week will help you get health-promoting omega-3 fats into your body.

And there are additional sources of lean proteins to include!

The key point here is – what foods do you need to eat more of….and…are they easily available in your kitchen and pantry?

3) Identify your health promoting tools and equipment 

Kitchen tools and equipment are essential in helping you move toward your health and wellness goals.

Here are some of my favourite kitchen tools and equipment:

  • Sharp knife! When I teach cooking classes, I ask people – when was the last time you had your knifes sharpened? Working with a dull knife is like using a dull pencil – it is inefficient and makes it harder to work in the kitchen.

  • Cutting board with a non-slip matt for underneath. If you don’t have a non-slip matt, you can use a dampened cloth or paper towel to help keep your cutting board in place as you work.
  • Spiralizer – this helps you create more vegetable-based alternatives to pasta and rice.

  • Blender – From creating your own vinaigrettes to smoothies, blenders are a tool that help you enjoy more plant-based foods.
  • Rasp or microplane – This helps you add in flavours like garlic and ginger with minimal mess.
  • Citrus juicer – You will be surprised at how much more lemon or lime juice you will squeeze out when using a citrus juicer!
  • Food processor – Because its base is wide, your “dough” or whatever you are processing won’t get stuck in the bottom, as it often does with a blender. If you haven’t learned how to assemble your food processor, dust off your instructions or go online to see how to put your food processor together.
  • Vegetable peeler – A sharp vegetable peeler allows you to simply prepare your vegetables for your…soup, salad, stir fry or side dish (while also creating scraps for making your own soup broth).
  • Metal colander – For quick cleaning your vegetables, rinsing your canned legumes and draining your pasta.
  • Stainless steel stock pot – Making soups is a simple way to enjoy more plant-based foods, and save money on your grocery bill!
  • Slow cooker – An essential piece of equipment for busy professionals!

  • Programmable pressure cooker – The most popular one is the Instapot but there are others. This versatile kitchen tool allows you to have the all-day slow-cooked taste in under 30 minutes. Make entrees, soups, rice, whole grains and soup broth.
  • Non-stick skillet (11 inch) – This versatile skillet allows for quick, one pot suppers.
  • Non-stick baking sheet with rim – This is a great tool for easy sheet-pan meals as well as an organizing tool for carrying all your supper time meals.
  • Parchment paper – An essential kitchen tool for minimizing mess! Note that this is NOT the same as wax paper!
  • Glass prep bowls – I love having these little glass prep bowls to help me be organized in my kitchen.

There are many other kitchen tools – some essential – some are gadget-ty and add clutter without a lot of function.

When building a house, you need certain tools. When building a healthful diet, you also need certain tools!

4)   Get cooking and baking

I believe that eating nutrient-rich foods is the pathway to our wellness and vitality.  When you prepare foods yourself in the kitchen you have a great ability to control what foods you eat and how they are prepared. You can enhance your confidence that the foods you are eating are consistent with your health goals.

I recently had a client who noted that cooking more home-prepared meals was a key factor in helping her lose weight and get a handle on her cravings.

Identify your recipe inspiration sources. I have a collection of cookbooks that give me inspiration for soul-filling foods.

If you are unsure of yourself in the kitchen, consider signing up for a cooking class. I offer hands-on healthy cooking classes at the South Health Campus Wellness Kitchen, in a community partnership with Alberta Health Services.

5)   Get credible resources and support 

Making a diet and lifestyle change can feel over-whelming. While on your own health journey, seek out credible resources and support to help you decide what YOU should change. What worked for your friend might not work (or be necessary) for you. Seek out the services of a health professional to help you make sense of YOUR own unique health and lifestyle.

Lifestyle change is a marathon, not a sprint! Start with a few basic changes, and see what energizes your momentum and lifestyle – and build from there.

Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall
Kristyn Hall MSc, RD Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian Calgary, AB.

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