7 Easy Ways to “Spring Clean” Your Diet
The weather is warmer, the days are longer, and it feels like life has been breathed back into the world around us. Spring is finally here! In the mad dash to clean every last closet, room, kitchen space, garage, office, and car, there’s one crucial area that you’re neglecting to clean–your body! I don’t mean, like, showering (although 10/10 would highly recommend if you’re not currently partaking in this practice), I’m talking about your diet.
Everybody knows that New Year’s resolutions are next to impossible to maintain, and fad dieting isn’t a sustainable practice, either. If you’re looking to get yourself into a better, healthier routine as we leap into sunnier months, getting a handle on food that you’re eating is a great place to start. Here are some easy changes that you can make to your day-to-day eating habits that are sure help you slide into the new season, clean as ever.
Focus on Eating In
Listen, I get it. Things come up, life happens, and sometimes, your only viable options seem to be breezing through the Whole Foods hot bar, stopping by Chipotle on the way home, or ordering takeout because life is hard and some days are really long. However, I can personally attest to the fact that focusing on cooking as many of your meals at home is a great thing for your physical and mental health (not to mention, your wallet). Plus, cooking is objectively fun. Depending on how many meals you’re making at home now, set yourself a realistic goal for how many meals you want to challenge yourself to make each week.
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Need Recipe Inspo? Look In Your Kitchen
For a lot of people, the biggest obstacle of at-home cooking can be choosing a recipe or deciding what exactly it is you’re going to make. Rather than scouring Pinterest for hours and writing up a lengthy list of groceries, look at what you already have first. That brown rice in the corner of your pantry that you haven’t touched in months or your crisper drawer chock full of veggies that you’re about to watch spoil can and should be turned into dinner. From my own experience, I can promise you that some of my best at-home creations have come about from trying to get rid of the random odds and ends in my kitchen. Use what you have before you start getting greedy at the grocery store, do you hear me?
Shop the Perimeter of the Grocery Store
This may be advice that your parents or your annoyingly healthy friends have given you before, but as unexciting as it might sound, it’s a really good tip. Focus on bulking up your grocery cart with fresh produce, lean meats, a couple dairy products, and call it a day. Wading through aisle after aisle isn’t worth your time–they’re packed with a ton of (tempting) processed foods, so it’s best to stick to the perimeters for a majority of your shopping needs and venture into the aisles with intention. As in, go down an aisle to grab the couple of staples you have on your list (like olive oil, a favorite grain, vinegar, etc.), not to “browse.”
Be Prepared–Have Snacks
There are two kinds of people in this world–those who are smart and prepared enough to pack snacks and those who aren’t. Be the former. Whether this means taking some time on Sunday to cut up carrots, peppers, apples, celery, and cucumbers (might as well make some hummus while you’re at it), or throwing together a batch of homemade granola or energy balls, having a healthy, satisfying snack at your fingertips at any given point throughout the week will improve your life drastically.
Make the Switch to Whole Grains
Getting in the habit of eating a balanced diet doesn’t mean you necessarily need to give up your favorite carbs, like pasta, rice, potatoes, and bread. Instead, try swapping out your white, processed carbs for a heartier, whole grain option where you can. If you’re going to eat a starchy carbohydrate, you might as well get as much bang for every bite as possible. Multigrain or whole grain products are packed with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants that you wouldn’t get from its white counterparts, which are stripped of the majority of their nutrients.
Focus on Portions, Not Complete Elimination
Somewhere along the line, the discussion about healthy eating changed from “what are you eating?” to “what aren’t you eating?” While restrictive eating lifestyles/diets like veganism, vegetarianism, Paleo, Whole30, or Keto work for some people, eliminating entire groups of foods can be difficult both mentally and physically for others. Instead of going cold turkey on large categories of foods, try to focus on how much you’re eating. As they say, everything is good in moderation, so rather than driving yourself crazy over one treat, simply have it and move on.
Practice Eating Mindfully
Before you roll your eyes and say this is some absurd, yoga teacher BS, hear me out. Listening to your body’s signals and becoming in tune with what you’re eating and how it makes you feel is way easier said than done. However, gaining the ability to understand what works for you and what doesn’t is one of the greatest things that you can do for yourself. Are you eating because you’re hungry, bored, stressed, tired, or an indistinguishable combination of it all? When you are eating, is the TV on? Are you sitting or standing? Are you buried in your phone? Are you putting down your fork and taking sips of water between bites? Do you stop eating when you feel satiated, or when your plate is cleared? Once you start to see how different foods make you feel, you can better understand how to properly feed yourself for the best, cleanest you.