Spring clean your eating habits

Spring has sprung, even if nature hasn’t quite caught up. Saying goodbye to winter in part means shedding any leftover holiday eating habits.

Spring cleaning is about doing away with eating habits that ultimately don’t make you feel healthy and happy. Here are some tips to redirect your eating habits:

  1. Skip the juice cleanses, detoxes, and fad diets.

Quick fixes won’t result in any lasting weight loss. Depriving yourself isn’t healthy and is actually counterproductive, setting yourself up for a diet ‘merry go round.’ For long-lasting, sustainable changes, slow and steady wins the race. Overly restrictive diets often exclude entire food groups, which can cause you to skimp on important nutrients like fiber. Stop with the juicing.

  1. Tidy your kitchen.

De-clutter cabinets, give the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer a once over and throw out or donate the foods that are sabotaging your wellness goals. If you are really looking to tune up your eating habits, be mindful of the junk foods you keep stocked in the house. Restock your shelves with fresh, less processed choices. Organize spaces by placing the healthiest items at eye level. Line the counters with fresh fruits and vegetables to encourage more consumption.

  1. Make one meal a day vegetable based.

Try to add more vegetables to dishes that already have them present, such as soups, salads, pasta salads, tacos, or make a variety of cold vegetable dishes for sides at lunch and dinner. As we move into a new season, take the opportunity to include ‘in season’ fruits and vegetables into your diet.

  1. Slash the sugar.

Winter is candy season from Halloween until Easter.  The goal here isn’t to remove every granule of sugar from your diet in a frenzy, but to consider minimizing the added sugars that can contribute to fatigue, diabetes and heart disease. Try replacing some of the sugars in sweetened drinks and snacks with healthier options. Rely on natural sugars in fruits to get your sweet fix.

  1. Stop taking out and start cooking.

Eating healthier takes effort. Planning and putting in the time to cook is worth it and will become habit forming, not to mention cheaper.  Taking control of how you fuel your body will pay in dividends with good health.

  1. Cut back on alcohol.

Summer evening happy hours and vacations don’t make it easy, but aim to cut down on your drinking.  Alcohol is not only worthless in terms of nutrition but it can cause you to make less healthy food choices while you are drinking. Some libations can even promote appetite.   Moderation with all behavior change is preferred, which includes drinking. Perhaps save indulgences for the weekends, and devise a non-alcoholic spritzer for a substitution.

  1. Be mindful.

Trying to eat mindfully is helpful whether you are striving to lose weight, gain weight or eat healthier. Tune into your body’s hunger and satiety cues. Avoid skipping meals and then later fall into snacking on treats that are not usually heathy options.

The most important thing is to take inventory, make a plan and move ahead to eating and feeling better.

Authors

Ann Caldwell and Maureen Shackelford are nutritionists and registered dietitians at Anne Arundel Medical Center. To reach them, call 443-481-5555.

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