The kitchen is arguably the heart of the home. It is the place where we store and prepare food, as well as come together with family and friends to eat, drink, and be merry. Yet, even with an increase in knowledge and technology for improving health, little has changed in the way we design and utilize our kitchens. As pre-packaged foods, processed foods, and obesity become overly present in our culture, the kitchen has become an underutilized tool for health and well-being.
First, let’s go back to the basics. Food is for nourishing our bodies. Eating fresh, whole, colorful, organic, and minimally processed foods give us the most and highest quality nutrients. Kitchens should be designed to keep fresh and living foods on hand. Installing humidity-controlled cupboards with running water and glass display doors would allow you to store fresh fruits and vegetables at an optimal environment for as long as possible. Think in terms of a large stainless-steel cigar cooler humidor or free-standing wine cellar, but for produce! Studies have shown that digestion begins with the eyes. When you can see your food easily through the storage door without having to open a bin and search, you are more likely to eat it. Everyone wins when there is more consuming and less waste. Microwaves and pantries are suited for packaged and preserved foods, which we know put us at increased risk for health complications. Swapping out the microwave and pantry for a large range stove and blender is a big step towards healthier food preparation and consumption.
Next, switching to an open shelving concept instead of using cabinets with doors gives way to reducing clutter in the kitchen and simplifies living. Shelves also serve as a place to put a plant. Indoor plants, such as Spider plants, Dracaenas, and Golden Pothos, help purify the air and add color to space. In-house gardens or windowsill planters that grow herbs are easy to access to live seasonings and reduce packaging and waste from repeatedly buying from the grocery store. Rearranging the space to incorporate a large table for family-style meals and social gatherings brings people together, which creates an atmosphere of nourishment, not just feeding.
Finally, the kitchen should encourage mindful and peaceful eating. It is not a place for the television or mobile phone charging stations because these things cause a distraction. Multitasking during meals or snacks often leads to overeating and weight gain. Natural light and minimal décor also help soothe the mind. A calm, relaxed mind can make better choices for healthy eating. When our kitchens reflect a place that supports wellness, we have greater respect for what we bring into it. Therefore, if you know you have a weakness for salty, fatty, or sugary foods, don’t buy them. If unhealthy foods are not kept in the kitchen