7 Ways To Spring Clean Your Diet
With the extra sunshine, fresh produce and budding flowers, I welcome spring with open arms. Many of my patients do too. For many, there’s a sense of rejuvenation and of fresh starts that’s like none other. But sometimes, because of detox diets and crazy fads, things go a little too far when it comes to spring-cleaning. So this spring, aim to clean your body the right way with these 7 super simple tips!
1. Detox The Right Way
Pollutants in the air and substances in or on our food require detoxification from our body. Luckily, thanks to our livers and kidneys, our bodies have their own unique way of detoxing. But the caveat here is that in order for the body to do this special job, we must supply it with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to help power detoxification. If you are looking to do a detox this spring, skip the crazy cleanses and instead provide your body with what it needs: whole foods.
2. Choose In-Season Produce In The Spring
Not only is in-season produce full of flavor, but also it often costs less at your grocery store. This spring, load up on strawberries – they are full of vitamin C – and asparagus – they are packed with vitamin A. Broccoli, radishes, rhubarb, peas and artichoke make for delicious choices, too. Take your produce on the sweet side by enjoying it as is or by blending into a smoothie, or opt to enjoy it savory by dipping it into hummus or nut butter.
3. Spring Clean Your Pantry
Take stock of the items you have in your pantry. Do they promote or detract from better health? Check the nutrition facts panel and the ingredients listing, looking for whole, real foods in the products you have.
Then, take a look at the expiration dates on your products. To sift through the confusion of “expires on,” “sell by,” “best by,” and the numerous other food quality and safety terms, the grocery industry in the U.S. just launched a new initiative to make it easier for you. Soon retailers and manufacturers will begin phasing in new wording – just two terms – “BEST If Used By” to indicate product quality (use by this date for better product taste, texture or performance) and “USE By” to indicate food safety of highly perishable items.1
4. Focus On Your Freezer
You can thank Mama Nature for this one: freezing is her oldest method of preserving foods. From vegetables to fruits, freezing produce at the peak of freshness locks the nutrients right in. This spring, fill your freezer with good-for-you items from the grocery, like frozen vegetables, frozen fruits, and frozen sustainable seafood. These items stay fresher, longer (when compared to refrigerated) and can be helpful when trying to reduce food waste. If you purchase fresh, know that those items can be frozen, too. Fresh greens can be pureed and added into ice cube trays for later use in smoothies or soups, and fruit like berries and grapes can be frozen on parchment paper and enjoyed as a tasty cool-you-down snack.
5. Get Sugar Savvy
Sure, it makes your food a little sweeter, but when it comes to your health, too much sugar may promote inflammation and raise triglycerides.2-3 Therefore, recognizing how much added sugar you get each day (from foods and beverages) and reducing how much you choose is important for gaining better health. This doesn’t mean you need to give up all added sugar though…just be respectful with how much you do consume. The World Health Organization recommends less than 50 grams per day for those who eat around 2000 calories per day diet, with a reduction to less than 25 grams per day for even better health outcomes.4
6. Choose Healthy Proteins & Fats
Proteins and fats help keep your blood sugar levels steady and keep you feeling satisfied instead of starving for a few hours after eating. And omega-3s like DHA, found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, confer additional benefits beyond feeling full – they also help support a healthy heart and brain. But many people simply do not get enough DHA each day. So, as you spring clean your diet, assess if you are meeting your omega-3 needs and add in more if you are not. Need more help with this? Check out this info!
7. Supplement Strategically
Even the most spring-savvy diet can fall short on delivering necessary vitamins and minerals. Because of this, I recommend that my patients choose a quality multivitamin and mineral supplement so that they can be sure that their daily nutrition needs are met. A dietary supplement helps supplement -- not replace -- a healthy diet, but even the healthiest diet isn’t perfect all the time, so for many a multivitamin is warranted.
1. Food Marketing Institute. Grocery Industry Launches New Initiative to Reduce Consumer Confusion on Product Date Labels. Food Marketing Institute Newsroom. 2017 Feb 15. http://www.fmi.org/news-room/latest-news/view/2017/02/15/grocery-industry-launches-new-initiative-to-reduce-consumer-confusion-on-product-date-labels
2. Aeberli, I., Gerber, P.A., Hochuli, M. et al. Low to moderate sugar-sweetened beverage consumption impairs glucose and lipid metabolism and promotes inflammation in healthy young men: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;94:479-85.
3. Le K.A., Tappy L. Metabolic effects of fructose. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006; 9:469–75.
4. World Health Organization. WHO calls on countries to reduce sugars intake among adults and children. 2015 March 5. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/
5. Yurko-Mauro, K., McCarthy, D., Rom, D. et al. Beneficial effects of docosahexaenoic acid on cognition in age-related cognitive decline. Alzheimers Dement. 2010 Nov;6(6): 456-64.
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