Spring Clean Your Diet

Spring is coming, which means you are probably looking at your closets, your basement, your junk drawers, even your shelves, realizing that its time to clean things up, obliterate clutter and trash to create a fresh, zen-like environment to flourish bright ideas and healthy living. So many clean up jobs to tackle, where to begin? Which will bring the most satisfaction? Which is most necessary? All these projects are worthwhile, yet somehow you have overlooked the biggest, most glaring clean up opportunity that will positively change your body, your attitude, and yes, your life. Sounds dramatic? It is.

Its your diet! Its time clean up your diet by tackling your fridge, pantry and cabinets. Evaluate their contents, get rid of the toxins and make room for the good stuff. The easy part is getting rid of the items you don’t need, will never need, and probably never did need in the first place, like most condiments and most of the boxed ‘food products’ in your pantry and freezer. If you look at this task as ‘cleaning out the kitchen’, it seems daunting, but if you think of it as a kick start to a healthy new way of living, making it easier to stay on track with healthy eating habits and giving you insight as to where your diet pitfalls were hiding, this could actually be a fun project. Well, at least a very worthwhile, informative and transformative project!

Spring cleaning your diet is kind of a misnomer, as eating clean is not a diet at all- it is a shift in perspective and lifestyle, making what you eat healthier and more delicious. The basics of clean eating rest on consuming food in its most natural state, or its closest approximation. The idea is to eat more of the healthiest options in every food group, and less of the not-so-healthy ones. This means learning how to shop for and prepare foods like vegetables, fruit, whole grains and healthy proteins in a way that makes it easy to stick with a clean diet. It also means simultaneously cutting back and eventually eliminating refined grains, added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats.

Unlike traditional Spring Cleaning, where you make one significant wholesale change and then wait the rest of the year for filth and clutter to creep back in, this is an ongoing process. You clean up one day at a time, one shopping trip at a time, one meal at a time. The goal is not "perfection", just "better". Every day, better. Certified Nutritionists at Federal Hill Fitness can help personalize your own diet clean up, but start on your own with these tips:

Diet Spring Cleaning Tip #1: Make Room for Whole Food.

You need to eat five times per day and plan your meals, so clear out some space, as you will need to store all this good food. Consider all the fresh, whole, unprocessed foods that are seasonal and nutrient-dense when making room in your fridge, and consider fresh whole foods that do not need refrigeration when making space in the pantry. Big mistakes in food selection happen when you are starving, so don’t stock things you shouldn’t eat. Any pre-work you do to prepare meals for the following day or the following week will help you stay on track. Invest in some Tupperware and if possible, make some space for a second freezer in a closet, basement, or garage (if you are lucky enough to have one in South Baltimore!).

Diet Spring Cleaning Tip #2: Drink Mainly Water.

Flavorings such as tea or herbs like mint or a squirt of citrus add variety to your water drinking campaign. Get rid of sugary fruit juices and sodas. Consider stocking sparkling water and a variety of herbal teas.

Diet Spring Cleaning Tip #3: Read Food Labels, Avoid Processed Foods.

Don’t restock with any product with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Likewise, if you can identify the myriad forms of artificial sweeteners, synthetic trans fats, artificial flavors and colors, MSG, high fructose corn syrup and preservatives like ones found in long shelf-life foods (BHA, BHT, TBHQ), recognize they are poison and get rid of them. These toxic ingredients may make foods look appealing and last a long time, but they will bring on disease, obesity, physical disabilities, and premature death.

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