Are You Ready to Spring Clean Your Diet?

  • By Dr. Anand Thakkar
  • 16 Mar, 2016
Forget your New Year's resolution—spring is the perfect time for new beginnings. You can finally cast off the gloomy weather and heavy coats in favor of sunshine and t-shirts. Spring is also a time to throw away any old winter habits and start fresh with your diet and your health.

As you spring clean your house, why not take the time to spring clean your diet, too? By removing unhealthy foods from your pantry and replacing them with healthy snacks and meals, you'll have an easier time trimming that waistline.

Start with the Fridge

When you open your fridge, what do you see first? Do you see easy-to-grab leftover takeout? Perhaps a few cans of soda or beer from your party last night? Since you're more likely to choose convenient foods at eye level, take a few moments right now to make healthy foods your first choice.

Toss These Foods

While the occasional can of soda or dollop of sour cream have their place, these high-sugar and high-fat foods will quickly pack on those extra pounds. Try to keep the following items out of your fridge:

Highly processed lunch meat
Whole milk
Tubs of margarine
Fruit juices
Sodas (both diet and regular)
Highly processed cheese (including sliced and canned)
Flavored yogurt
High-fat ranch dressing, mayonnaise, and other condiments
Can't say no to that nacho cheese? Move fattening foods and snacks to the lower compartments and side shelves of your fridge so they become the last food you see rather than the first.

Swap with These Foods

Spring cleaning your diet is more than simply throwing away the old food. You need to have healthier foods in their place (otherwise you'll just buy more fattening snacks). Here are some good foods to keep in your fridge:

All-natural lean meat (turkey, chicken, etc.)
Reduced fat or non-fat milk (almond milk and coconut milk are also good choices)
Butter
Whole fruits and vegetables
Pitcher of water
Raw or local cheese (such as extra sharp cheddar)
Unflavored yogurt or Greek yogurt
Cottage cheese
Don't like taking the time to prepare your fruits and veggies? Precut produce makes for a great snack.

Tidy the Pantry

Now that your fridge is full of healthy options, you're ready to tackle your pantry. As with your fridge, you want to put the healthy foods at eye level.

Toss These Foods

Most of the foods in your pantry don't require refrigeration, which means they often carry a lot of sugars and preservatives to increase their shelf life. Remove these foods from your pantry and your diet:

Sugary cereal
Chips
Pretzels
Cookies
Candy
Microwave buttered popcorn
Packaged muffins and cereal bars
Canned and instant noodle soups
While some foods, like pretzels or canned soups, might seem like healthy choices at a glance, try to avoid them whenever you can. Many of these foods and snacks have more than a day's worth of sodium, which can contribute to conditions like hypertension and heart disease.

Swap with These Foods

As you throw away your everyday snacks and treats, remember that you don't have to sacrifice flavor and fun when you choose a healthier diet. The following items taste great and will help you look great, too:

Rolled oats
Canned beans
Raw, unsalted nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios)
Plain popcorn
Low-salt canned tuna or salmon
Whole-grain or whole wheat pasta
Whole-grain quinoa
Dark chocolate
Yes, dark chocolate can be good for you. Dark chocolate with 60% cacao (or unsweetened cocoa) contains high concentrations of helpful antioxidants. Dark chocolate and cocoa may help you ease emotional stress and even reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Just remember that dark chocolate also has more than its fair share of fat, sugar, and calories, so only consume it in small portions.

Don't Forget Your Countertop

Your fridge and your pantry aren't the only places you store food. Oftentimes you place your easiest, fastest snacks on your counter to satisfy those last-minute hunger pangs. As you spring clean your kitchen and your diet, aim to have filling, nutrient-dense foods available.

Toss These Foods

For a clutter-free and healthier kitchen, toss these foods from your counter so you have more room for healthier options:

White bread
Sweeteners (sugar and sugar alternatives)
Baked goods
Trail mixes with lots of flavorings, sugars, and salts
Congratulations! You now have a kitchen free from unhealthy foods.

Swap with These Foods

Here are some healthier choices when you need food fast:

Whole-wheat bread
Honey
Fruits easy to eat on the go (apples, bananas, grapes, peaches, etc.)
All-natural peanut butter
Great work adding in these healthy foods. You are now well on your way to a slimmer, healthier you this spring.

Need More Tips?

These are just a few foods you can choose when you spring clean your kitchen. For more nutrition and weight loss tips, check our blog. We update it regularly to ensure you have the tools you need to stay slim and trim.
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