Julie Metos to see just how healthy our diet habits are! What healthy foods get positive points and what foods get unhealthy negative points—grab a sheet of paper, open your fridge, and start marking your own score while you listen!">

Jun 13, 2017 — What's in your fridge says a lot about your health habits. Do you have plenty of veggies, fruits, milk, and fish or lean meats stocked? Are your vegetables rotting? Is your fridge packed with high-sodium sauces or sticks of margarine? We played the "Rate Your Refridgerator" game with dietitian Julie Metos to see just how healthy our diet habits are! What healthy foods get positive points and what foods get unhealthy negative points—grab a sheet of paper, open your fridge, and start marking your own score while you listen!


Announcer: Health tips, medical news, research, and more for a happier, healthier life. From University of Utah Health Sciences, this is The Scope.

Interviewer: All right, it's time to play "Rate Your Refrigerator" with dietitian Julie Metos. All right, set up the premise for us.

Julie: Okay. You're going to open your refrigerator and you're going to get points for healthy foods that are in your fridge, and you're going to get negative points for things that aren't so healthy, and you're going to try to get to the number 10.

Interviewer: So I suppose that bottle of chocolate sauce isn't going to give me any points.

Julie: No. No points for that.

Interviewer: All right. Let's go ahead and play "Rate Your Refrigerator." What's number one?

Julie: Okay. First of all, look at your veggie bin. And if your veggie bin is full, you get two points. You're especially looking for colorful things like green, leafy vegetables, carrots, squash, etc.

Interviewer: All right. And what are the health benefits of those things?

Julie: Well, when they are more colorful, that means they have more vitamin A, usually more vitamin C, and more vitamin K. All these have really important roles in your body, especially, your metabolism.

Interviewer: All right. So those vegetables, primarily, are for the vitamins and the minerals, and the nutrients?

Julie: That's correct.

Interviewer: That's the role they serve in our lives, all right.

Julie: Yeah. They taste good, too, by the way.

Interviewer: You can develop a taste for them. Yeah, you're right.

Julie: Yeah.

Interviewer: All right, there's two points. What's next?

Julie: Two points for your fruit bin being full, okay? So like apples, oranges, grapes, strawberries, whatever you have in your fruit bin, okay?

Interviewer: And fruits, any kind of fruit is fine?

Julie: Any kind of fruit would be just great. You're going to be using this as a snack or for a dessert substitute.

Interviewer: Okay. And what are the benefits of fruits, its vitamins and minerals as well?

Julie: Vitamins and minerals, of course, they have fiber, especially, on the outer peel. So it's a peel you can eat. Like an apple, you should wash the peel and eat it.

Interviewer: And that helps keep the digestive system cranking along?

Julie: Yes, cranking along, helps with your cholesterol levels as well.

Interviewer: All right, cool. All right, there's four points for some people. What's next?

Julie: Okay. Two points if you have skim or 1% milk. If you're not a milk drinker, if you have soy or rice milk that's fortified, that can be a good substitute.

Interviewer: All right, and cottage cheese and that sort of thing, too? Does that count?

Julie: Cottage cheese, we're going to count more in the protein group, and we want . . . we're looking for things here that have a lot of calcium.

Interviewer: All right. And what would be so bad if I was drinking whole milk?

Julie: If you were drinking the whole milk, you're going to have some extra fat and calories in it. So if you're a child or if you have a child under the age of two, we recommend whole milk. But after that, we recommend that you stick more to the lower fat milk just to have fewer, fewer calories and to help your heart.

Interviewer: Okay. All right, sounds good. What's next?

Julie: Next thing is you have some leftovers in that fridge that you made, you get two points.

Interviewer: And why is that?

Julie: That's because when you cook yourself, you get to know food better and you eat more healthily than if you eat out. Okay? You're also going to have something for lunch tomorrow.

Interviewer: I found that that's so the battle, right?

Julie: Right.

Interviewer: The battle is when I go home, if I've got something that's easy, that's a healthy choice, then I'm going to make a smarter decision as opposed to stopping by and picking up a pizza on the way home.

Julie: Absolutely.

Interviewer: All right.

Julie: So if you're going to get two more points, if you have some fish or lean poultry, or lean meats in your fridge. Okay?

Interviewer: All right, so chicken and turkey?

Julie: Chicken, turkey . . .

Interviewer: And fish.

Julie: Fish, lean beef . . .

Interviewer: And the benefits of those things is the protein?

Julie: The protein. Protein, for sure, and there's a lot of minerals that come along with protein like zinc. And so, what I always suggest, I don't expect to see like a whole big old 12-ounce steak in your fridge that you're going to eat by yourself, but I'm going to suggest that that 12-ounce steak would be for your whole family. Okay? So small, dense portions of these lean proteins are really good for maximizing your nutrition.

Interviewer: All right. And you just mentioned red meat is fine?

Julie: Red meat is fine in little, tiny portions. Okay?

Interviewer: Okay, in moderation.

Julie: They're like the size of your palm of your hand.

Interviewer: All right, sounds good.

Julie: Okay. So here's another plus. So let's say you have some cut-up celery, carrots, apples, oranges all ready, like either in cold water or right in the front of the fridge where you can see them when you open the door, that's awesome, because then you'll gravitate towards those instead of turning around and going to a cupboard and getting some cookies.

Interviewer: And that's another two points.

Julie: There you go.

Interviewer: All right, and I think I've heard a statistic which I'm going to quote wrong, but just having that stuff sliced up and ready to go increases the chance that children are going to eat those types of things, by like 70%. It's a huge number.

Julie: Oh, yeah, absolutely. You know, we eat with our eyes, right? If we see food, we eat it. So we got to put things that are healthy where you can see them.

Interviewer: All right.

Julie: And then, next part, you're going to get some points taken away. Okay?

Interviewer: Okay. Well, wait a minute. We've only . . .

Julie: Oh, wait. You've got two, four, six, eight. Okay, one more. You're going to get two points for cleanliness, okay?

Interviewer: Okay.

Julie: And the cleanliness is because like who wants to get food poisoning, okay?

Interviewer: All right, sounds good. Now, we're going to see how we did and take away.

Julie: We're going to take away now, yeah. Okay, so you have to take away one point if your veggies or fruit are rotting because that means you weren't eating them.

Interviewer: Okay, all right.

Julie: Okay. We're going to take away one point if you have sticks of margarine, like the hard little sticks of margarine, because those have lots of trans fat which are not good for your heart health. Right?

Interviewer: So butter is better than margarine?

Julie: Butter is a little bit better than those hard margarines. But if you have those softer tub margarines, sometimes they're half butter, half oil, those types of margarines would be okay with me.

Interviewer: All right.

Julie: And you're going to take away one point if you have more than three of the following things -- salad dressing, ketchup, sauces like barbeque sauce, Pad Thai sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and these are because these are very high in sodium. Okay? So it's okay to have a little bit. But if you've got a bunch of them and you're relying on them for lots of meals, you're probably getting too much sodium.

Interviewer: And from what I've heard, it's fairly easy to get more sodium than you really need.

Julie: It is, especially when you have these packaged foods or these process that you are using.

Interviewer: Okay.

Julie: So make your own salad dressing. That would be a tip.

Interviewer: All right, sounds good, yeah.

Julie: So how did you do?

Interviewer: Do I get negatives? My fruit is not rotting, so no. I have no sticks of margarine, no. We do have sauces. We don't use them all the time though.

Julie: Well, that's okay then.

Interviewer: It's just once in a while, but we do have some. So I actually did really well.

Julie: You did. Congratulations.

Interviewer: Two, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, I got 14 points.

Julie: Excellent, above the grade level.

Interviewer: All right. So what should somebody do if they didn't do so well?

Julie: Well, starting with the sodium, I would say one of the easiest things you can do is make your own salad dressing. It's really one of the easiest things to make. Pick a recipe online, but basically, you just need to take olive oil, a little vinegar or lemon, mix it together, put some herbs in, and you're good to go. If you haven't been a vegetable or a fruit eater, start with some that you find most palatable, that might be a little sweeter. People like to do that. So maybe some squash, something like along the lines of peas or corn or carrots. That is more palatable for some people.

Interviewer: Yeah. And don't shoot for being perfect. You shoot for trying to get it worked into your diet.

Julie: Absolutely. Perfection is really not what you're shooting for with nutrition. You want to go with the 80-20 rule, 80% perfect, 20% not so perfect.

Interviewer: I like that.

Julie: And then, you're pretty good. That's pretty good nutrition.

Interviewer: All right, and get some of that good stuff in there, trade out the full fat milk for the skim milk and whatnot as well.

Julie: Right. And I really like your idea about having things really visible in the fridge because when you're hungry, you know, you stand there one foot and start grazing, and we want the things that are healthy to be really easy to graze on.

Announcer: Thescoperadio.com is University of Utah Health Sciences' radio. If you like what you heard, be sure to get our latest content by following us on Facebook. Just click on the Facebook icon at thescoperadio.com.