Being overweight has a number of health impacts. Being overweight puts you at higher risk for many chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancers. In addition to that, life insurance for overweight individuals can be more expensive and more difficult to obtain.
Healthy eating and physical activity are both important to feel better and look better. Portion control and staying under your daily calorie recommendations are the diet foundations needed to aid in weight loss and weight management.
Healthy eating starts in the kitchen. The more often you can cook at home, the more effective you will be at sticking to your diet. Restaurant dishes and fast food are higher in calories and fat, which makes it more difficult to eat healthily. Restaurant orders and fast foods also tend to be bigger portions, which makes it easier to exceed our recommended calorie intake.
When you eat at home, you can control the ingredients, the portions, and the meals you are preparing. The right set of healthy eating tools in your kitchen will help you eat healthier at every meal.
Tool #1 – Kitchen Scale
Most kitchen scales are under $20 and can be one of the most important kitchen tools to help you eat healthier. A good kitchen scale can help you measure out the portions of all of your ingredients and meals. Using a kitchen scale during meal prepping is a great way to stay on track with your eating each week.
A kitchen scale will help you measure out the right portions of foods in increments like grams, ounces, fluid ounces, or milliliters. If you are unable to determine what 4 ounces of chicken or one cup of vegetables looks like, a kitchen scale can do this for you.
This is especially helpful if you are tracking your food intake with a nutrition tracking program, like MyFitnessPal. If you do not use a kitchen scale, you will have to eyeball the portion sizes, which may lead to underestimating portion sizes and underestimating your daily total calories.
For fruits and vegetables, you can also eyeball the portion by imagining a lady’s fist or a baseball as being about 1 cup. For meat, three ounces is about the size of a deck of cards or a lady’s palm. However, these are just estimates so a kitchen scale is going to eliminate any human error in these estimations.
Tool #2 – Meat Thermometer
A meat thermometer is a necessity to ensure your meat has been cooked to a proper and safe temperature. Color is not an indicator of meat being done, so a thermometer should always be used to ensure proper food safety.
Lean protein options like chicken and turkey should be cooked to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Fresh, lean cuts of beef and pork should be cooked to a minimum temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
A meat thermometer can also be used for healthy egg dishes, like a veggie frittata. Egg dishes should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fish is a healthy food option because it is low in calories, full of protein, and contains omega-3 fatty acids for heart health, brain health, and joint health. Fish should be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit and should be opaque in color and flake easily.
A good meat thermometer usually costs less than $20 and is a great investment for your kitchen to help you safely cook all types of meats.
Tool #3 – Vegetable Steamer Basket
A vegetable steamer basket gives you an easy option to steam vegetables and meat the healthy way. Steaming retains most of the vitamins and minerals while still keeping the flavor high.
A vegetable steamer can fit in an existing pot with a lid and keeps the vegetables or meat out of the boiling water. It looks like a basket or pot with many tiny holes to allow steam to come through. Many fold up easily for storage and are dishwasher-safe.
Vegetables can be steamed in as few as five minutes, but some vegetables, like root vegetables, might take up to 15 minutes. Meat, like chicken or fish, takes anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes. Fruits, grains, rice, and eggs can also be prepared using a vegetable steam basket.
Most vegetable steamers are less than $20, so they are another inexpensive option to add to your kitchen gadgets for healthy eating.
Tool #4 – High-Speed Blender
A high-speed blender is useful for smoothies, protein shakes, homemade restaurant-style salsa, pesto, dips, or sauces.
A healthy smoothie can contain ingredients like protein powder, low-fat milk or yogurt, fruits, or even vegetables. Kale and spinach can be added to smoothies for added nutrition without affecting the flavor or taste.
Protein shakes are great for a quick breakfast on the go or a post-workout snack. You can also blend leftover vegetables to add to other dishes, like soups, chili, or sauces.
If you are only using a blender for single-serving shakes or smoothies or just small items, a single-serve blender might be more ideal for you.
Tool #5 – Food Processor
A food processor makes it easy to make your own hummus, pesto, nut butter, or salsa. It’s also easy to use to chop or dice vegetables, which can be added to soups, sauces, or other dishes.
Hummus, healthy bean dips, pesto, and nut butter can all help you get plant-based protein as well as providing you with a variety of vitamins and minerals. These options are much healthier than the store-bought versions and very easy to prepare.
You might have some extra carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, or other vegetables in your refrigerator from a previous meal. You can blend those or use the food processor and easily add them to a pasta sauce, chili, or soup to amp up the vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
If you use a food processor often, a higher-end option for around $400 might be a good idea. If you use one less frequently and just need it for basic tasks, you can find a good one for around $40.
Additional Kitchen Tools to Help You Eat Healthy
There are numerous other kitchen utensils and gadgets that might be helpful for healthy eating habits. Other great healthy eating kitchen tools include salad spinners, a good-quality set of knives, and an Instant Pot or pressure cooker.
While a water bottle isn’t necessary for preparing and cooking foods, a quality water bottle is also essential to help you drink enough water daily. Staying hydrated by drinking water will cut down your cravings for sugary drinks like juice and soda pop.
Having a good arsenal of healthy eating tools in your kitchen can make it easier to motivate yourself and your family to eat healthier and enjoy mealtime.
Melissa Morris gives fitness and healthy living advice on the life insurance site, EffortlessInsurance.com, and she has an MS in exercise science. She is an ACSM certified exercise physiologist and an ISSN certified sports nutritionist. She teaches nutrition and applied kinesiology at the University of Tampa.