Spring is finally here, and while you may have your mind on home spring cleaning projects, it’s not a bad idea to think about spring cleaning your diet as well.
During the winter months, it’s easy to get into the habit of eating comfort foods, which are often high in carbs, calories and other not-so-healthy ingredients. Start fresh this spring with a diet overhaul. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Clean out your pantry and fridge. Start your spring cleaning by tossing out expired and processed foods such as TV dinners and canned soups. Did you know frozen meals can contain high amounts of sodium, trans fats and sugar and very little nutrition? When it comes to canned soups, even vegetable soup is fatty and full of sodium and calories; you’re much better off making your own. Check the label, and if it contains more than 5 grams of fat, it goes. Swap heavy sauces, dips and snacks with fruit, veggies and plain Greek yogurt for smoothies, dips and dressings. If you don’t remember when it was purchased or it has freezer burn, let it go.
Get control of portions. Did you pack on a few pounds during the winter? Take a look at your portion sizes and cut down how much you eat to reduce your daily caloric intake and get back on track. Don’t let yourself get so hungry that you’re starving by your next meal, however. If you get to that point, you’re more likely to eat more than you should. Measure and weigh your food to ensure you’re only eating one serving. Not sure what an appropriate serving size is? Use this guide.
Change up your produce. If you’re like most people, you probably have the tendency to buy the same fruits and veggies week after week. Change things up, try something new and look for produce that’s in season in spring. Some of the things you’ll see more of this season include asparagus, mushrooms, apricots, artichokes, broccoli, collard greens, mango, berries, red leaf lettuce, rhubarb, spinach and Swiss chard. Remember, the more colorful the fruit or veggie, the higher its vitamin and mineral content.
Slash salt and sugar intake. White sugar is linked to diabetes, inflammation, decreased immune response and even some cancers. Cutting back on sugar and salt not only makes it easier to lose weight; it lowers your risk of diabetes, heart disease, liver fatigue and cancer. Throw out sugary drinks, including fruit juice — yes, even orange juice — and stick to the source: the whole fruit. Pay attention to labels and limit your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (and that’s being generous) per day. Keep in mind that processed foods often contain high amounts of both sugar and sodium.
Start taking probiotics. Probiotics aid in digestive health and can also help counter the effects of antibiotics by rebalancing the gut-friendly bacteria in your body. While you can take a probiotic supplement, try to get your probiotics from foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, miso soup, tempeh and dark chocolate.
Stick with water. Red wine, coffee, soda — these beverages are dehydrating and aren’t doing you any favors. Ditch the dehydrating drinks and replace them with water. To brighten things up a bit, add orange, lemon, lime, cucumber slices or fresh berries to your water. Drinking water will help flush toxins from your body, give you more energy, help your appetite and increase your metabolism.
Become amazed at how some spring cleaning can help you feel better, be more alert and even lose weight. Why wait for the first day of spring? Started today!