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In preparing for this article, I was given full access to a well-known nutritionist's fridge (who for privacy reasons will not be identified here). I looked for nutritional no-no's, but all I found was healthy food.

Several years ago I was a house guest of one of America's best known and most influential nutritionists, a specialist in holistic nutrition. I was given full access to the house, and to the refrigerator.

I had absolutely no intent of going through my host's refrigerator to find evidence of nutritional hypocrisy, but even if I had been a spy from the makers of Ding Dongs and Frito chips, I would have nothing but good things to say about what was inside this nutritionist's fridge.

A Healthy Refrigerator

The first thing I noticed about my host's fridge was that it was a clearly healthy refrigerator. There was no trace of "refrigerator breath" from spoiled food. There was no mildew, mold, slime, or grime. 

Basic fridge items included condiments, all in clearly marked bottles, all well within their expiration dates. My friend takes the time to make her own mayonnaise and salad dressings, so she only needs items like mustards, capers, and hot sauce

The produce bins were full, but vegetables were not just tossed in the bin in a haphazard fashion. Melons, which have lots of nooks and crannies on their rinds that can hold E. coli and Salmonella bacteria, were covered in plastic. There's not much danger of picking up a bacterial infection from the melon itself, because its rind is peeled away before the melon is served. But the rind was kept well away from salad greens and root vegetables to avoid cross-contamination.

Fish, Meat, and the Three-Day Rule

There is an American saying dating at least back to Benjamin Franklin that "Fish and visitors begin to smell in three days" (with the exception of nice visiting nutrition writers who can stay three weeks or more). In my nutritionist friend's fridge, however, no meat or fish was held for more than three days.

Meat or fish that could not be consumed in three days would have been frozen or thrown out, but my nutritionist host avoided that problem by planning ahead. She only went to the market once a week, but she cooked roasts and stews all the same day, putting them in the freezer to be eaten later in the week or serving her family right away.

What You Would Never Find in My Nutritionist's Fridge

Some items, however, never appeared in my friend's fridge. Here are the top 10 nutritional offenders she banished from her refrigerator forever.

  • Soft drinks. Both sugar-sweetened and zero-calorie soft drinks were strictly forbidden in my nutritionist's refrigerator. However, she kept soda water (mineral water) and naturally sugar-sweetened syrups to make Italian sodas as an occasional treat.
  • Cow's milk. Not everyone has an allergy to cow's milk. However, my host family did, so they kept buffalo and goat's milk and buffalo, goat, and sheep's milk cheeses on hand for meals and snacks. They found that cow's milk yogurt was not a problem for them.
  • Prepared salad dressings. It's really easy to make your own salad dressings, and the antioxidant content of the spices is far greater when you put them in the blend yourself. 
  • Luncheon meats. My nutritionist friend had nothing against salami, pastrami, mortadella, sausages, or even hot dogs, but she only let her family eat them when they were planned, not as a substitute for healthy eating. She did not buy brands that were especially high in trans- fat or nitrates even when she did buy these snack items.
  • Ready-made desserts. Desserts were not forbidden at my friends' house, but they were never the factory-made desserts that are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, trans- fats from margarine, preservatives, and artificial flavorings.
Continue reading after recommendations

  • Roe LS, Meengs JS, Rolls BJ. Salad and satiety. The effect of timing of salad consumption on meal energy intake. Appetite. 2012 Feb. 58(1):242-8. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.10.003. Epub 2011 Oct 8.
  • Spill MK, Birch LL, Roe LS, Rolls BJ. Serving large portions of vegetable soup at the start of a meal affected children's energy and vegetable intake.Appetite. 2011 Aug
  • 57(1):213-9. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.04.024. Epub 2011 May 8
  • Photo courtesy of wudrich on Flickr:
  • Photo courtesy of wild-smith on Flickr:

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