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Healthy Home Tips: “Renovate” Your Refrigerator

Renovating your refrigerator is not that much different than renovating any other part of your home. You keep the best parts, upgrade the parts that are overdue and get rid of the parts that no longer make sense. The only difference here is that we are talking about food and drink rather than cabinets and counter-tops. I can assure you that the end result will be just as satisfying, a refrigerator full of healthy and nourishing food for the whole family.

Let’s take a step-by-step look at how we can take your refrigerator from basic to beautiful.

healthy homeStep 1: Identify the foods that need to stay

The most important foods in your fridge are, and always will be, fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, many Canadians do not even come close to eating the recommended amount of these foods (8-10 servings a day). There is a reasonable chance that this also applies to you.

I want you to continue purchasing whichever fruits and vegetables you are already purchasing, and add even more. Make sure that fruits and vegetables are the most prominent, vibrant and visible items in your fridge. If they aren’t, that is a sign that your refrigerator needs a renovation.

My top picks: Cauliflower, broccoli, avocado, kale, chard, bell peppers, spinach, apples and oranges.


Step 2: Identify the foods that need to gohealthy home

I rarely tell people to completely eliminate foods from their refrigerator, but these next two items are the exception.

The first of these items is processed meats, a category which includes hot dogs, sausages, bacon, salami, ham, pastrami and bologna. These items are generally high saturated fat, calories and sodium and low in protein and nutrients. Worst of all, the consumption of processed meats has been linked with an increased risk of cancer. For this reason, above all others, it is time give up on these old favourites.

The second group of items that have no place in your new refrigerator are sugar sweetened beverages. This category of drinks includes pops, soda, fruit punch, lemonade and energy drinks. As their name suggests, these beverages are high in added sugar and calories and low in nutrients. Canadians are currently consuming around the same amount of sugar on a daily basis from these drinks as they are from fruit, and that is a real concern.

Other foods to consider scrapping: Mayonnaise, beer/alcohol, butter, cream, and whipped cream.

Step 3: Identify the foods that need to be upgraded

Sometimes our favourite foods go out of style and need to be updated with healthier varieties. Here are some common examples of foods in your fridge that may need an upgrade:

  1. Salad Dressing: I know you love your creamy salad dressing but it’s time for an upgrade. I suggest opting for lower calorie oil and vinegar based alternatives as often as possible.
  2. Dairy Products (milk, cheese, yogurt): Choosing lower fat dairy products whenever possible is a major upgrade that most people would benefit from.
  3. Any Sauces/Condiments: Reading food labels and choosing sauces and condiments that are lowest in sodium and calories would result in a major refrigerator upgrade.

Common upgrade candidates: BBQ sauces, pasta sauces, ketchup, mustard, teriyaki/soy sauce.

Just like home renovations, refrigerator renovations do not need to be drastic in order to be effective. It is often only small subtle changes that are required to make significant positive impacts on the health of you and your family. I sincerely hope that some of the suggestions I have provided here today appeal to you on a personal and practical level, and I wish you the best of luck on your refrigerator renovation.


Toronto dietitian About the Author: Andy is a Toronto-based private practice dietitian operating out of 1910 Yonge Street. Most of his clients come to him for general healthy eating and weight management guidance.If you would like to learn more about Andy and his services, or read more nutrition content from him, please visit his website –

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