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Spring Clean Your Diet

by Kebbie Stine, MNT

Spring is here, it’s time to come out of our winter cocoon and do a happy dance! After all of that wonderful comfort food winter brings, spring is a great time to reset the body and make some healthy changes. Here are some tips to help you get started!

  1. Baby Steps.

Don’t fall into the overwhelm trap! For some trying a diet overhaul (like a spring detox or Whole30) may be just the ticket; for others this is one way road to failure. Instead try making one healthy change every week. For instance this week cut soda from your life, stock up on seltzer water and enjoy a bubbly water whenever you crave soda. Next week commit to having healthy snack options available to avoid the inevitable “hangry” crash.

  2. Read Labels!

This one is a total game changer. You won’t believe what is actually in that seemingly innocent bag of cookies. If you can’t pronounce it, it is probably not food and does not belong in your body! My rule of thumb is if it has more than five ingredients, and/or I don’t know what the ingredients are I don’t buy it. Be on the lookout for added sugars sneaking in under the alias of dextrose, maltose, sucrose (pretty much anything ending in -ose), and the worst offender - high fructose corn syrup! Many people are highly sensitive to food colorings and don’t even know it; it is wise to always avoid anything with food coloring, especially for children (these are labeled like Red #40, Blue #1, Yellow #5, etc).  

3. Do a Kitchen Clean-Out.

Let’s be honest, it’s probably time to clean out that fridge and pantry anyway, right? While you are at it, throw out or give away unhealthy foods and replace with healthier options. Think cookies, candy, chips, refined grains (white bread, pasta, boxed cereals, pastries, cakes, etc). Replace boxed cereal with oats, replace packaged desserts with dark chocolate, replace chips with veggies and hummus.  Now that you are an expert label reader, what better place to start than with your own kitchen?

4. Eat Fat!

We have been conditioned for 60 years that all fat is bad for us, however this has now proven to be false. Did you know that dietary fats are essential to give your body energy and to support healthy cell growth? They also help protect your organs and help keep your body warm. Fats help us absorb certain nutrients and are necessary to produce important hormones. There are however good fats and bad fats! Trans fats or hydrogenated oils are fats you want to avoid, these are found in packaged foods that have a long shelf like cookies, crackers, instant breads (crescent rolls, biscuits, cinnamon buns that come in tubes), and margarines. Healthy fats can be found in grass fed butter, ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil. Fatty foods include nuts/seeds, avocados, cold water wild caught fish like salmon/sardines, grass fed meats and pastured eggs.

5. Be Mindful.

Portion size is a hard thing for many Americans. We have become a nation of “super size” portions, and it has helped cause an epidemic of obesity. Your stomach is roughly the ‘size of your fist, and therefore your plate should reflect the same. There is a little trick I like to call ‘the sigh’. Have you noticed when you are eating and start feel full you take a nice deep breath? Pay attention, everyone does it. This is your stomach telling you it’s full and you can stop eating now. Listen to your sigh!

When, where, and how we eat our food has a big impact on digestion. If we are always eating at our desks, in the car, in front of the television our bodies are not in parasympathetic mode, or the “rest and digest” mode. By eating in a quiet enjoyable space and focusing on your food you will not only start to notice how delicious the food you are consuming is, but your digestion will improve as well. Try it!

6. Move Everyday!

Exercise is proven to improve pretty much every aspect of being a human. It boosts mood, improves digestion, increases energy, improves brain activity, and the list goes on. With spring comes longer warmer days, try to get outside everyday and take a walk, go for a run and soak up that vitamin D!

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