Spring cleaning is for more than just a reason to straighten up your home.
While New Year’s resolutions come and often go, spring is a great time to get a fresh start on improving your daily nutrition. As you welcome the new season, take an opportunity to clean up your diet as well.
Not knowing where to start when it comes to improving your diet can be a big obstacle for those looking for ways to transform eating habits.
It’s important to do a little research before making any change in your lifestyle. Avoid fad diets. Create a plan that you know you can stick with.
Decode nutrition labels
After you create a strategy, your next big challenge will likely be deciphering what’s included on nutrition labels. You might think that avoiding junk food is the key to success. While that is a big part in cleaning up your diet, it’s easy to be fooled by brands labeling themselves as “healthy” and “nutritious.”
If you’re eating a packaged food, take a close look at the nutrition label. It’s not only about the calories and fat. It’s about what’s inside.
Whatever you’re eating should be the main ingredient, or at least very high up on the ingredient list, e.g., when picking a bottled barbecue sauce, choose one that lists tomato puree and vinegar first instead of high fructose corn syrup.
Be mindful of the sugar content, especially added sugars, which sometimes go by different names. Some alternative names for different types of sugars added to packaged foods include:
- corn syrup
- cane juice
- maple syrup
- barley malt
Don’t drink your calories
Sodas, juices, energy drinks—these beverages all contain high amounts of sugar and calories. Diet versions may not contain the sugar and calories, but they fill your body with unhealthy chemicals and additives.
Avoid drinking your calories by switching up your drink choices. Water is always best, but if you’re looking for flavor, try fruit-infused waters or tea.
Helpful hints for cleaning up your diet
Avoiding junk food and sugary treats for a long period of time can feel like an unrealistic and unsustainable goal. The key is to long-term success is finding healthier alternatives that you enjoy. With a little trial and error, you can find recipes for healthy versions of dishes you love that make clean eating easier.
Here are some small steps you can take to get started eating a healthier diet:
- Eat more fruits and veggies. This is a great way to feel full. Plus, these foods don’t come with the side effects that you get when you eat foods loaded with added sugars, fat, and calories.
- Switch to whole grains. You can still eat the things you love, but try eating the healthier alternative. Swap out your refined carbs for whole grains.
- Be mindful of processed foods. Processed foods have additives in them to give them a brighter color, longer shelf-life, and enhanced taste. Avoid processed foods by choosing organic products and eating more natural foods like fruits, vegetables, and protein.
- Keep and eye on sodium and added sugar. Even when something claims to be healthy it may not be. Food manufacturers can put pretty much whatever they want on their packaging. Always check the label to see how much sodium and added sugar are in the foods you’re eating, and don’t forget to look at serving sizes, too, for misleading information.
If you’re still unsure of where to start when cleaning up your diet, talk to your primary care provider at your next appointment.
If you have certain goals, tell them. Your doctor will not only talk through all of your options, but they will be able to help you determine which option might work best for you and your overall health goals.
Make an appointment with one of our providers to start your journey to better eating today. Schedule online or by calling (574) 753-7541.