How To Spring Clean Your Diet
What is it about spring that makes us want to clean up, clear out and de-clutter? Here at Montagu, we’re thinking seriously about how to spring clean your diet.
We’re not really sure what it is, but chances are you have already made it your mental mission to spring clean the heck out of your home, your cupboards or your garage.
But what about your diet? All that yummy winter food was probably heavier, heartier and more comforting (mac and cheese, anyone?), but it may have left you feeling a little sluggish and, well… meh. Spring is the perfect time to change things up, clear out some junk in your diet and feel better all round.
If you are anything like us, lists work for you. You get huge satisfaction when you get to tick those little suckers off. So we have put together a simple checklist to help you spring clean your diet for the warmer months ahead.
Tip: If trying all these at once is a bit of a challenge for you, why not start small and tackle one point per week? You’ll be sorted for summer in no time!
Here is our checklist to help you spring clean your diet – let’s do this!
1. Ditch the sugar
Sugar is just all-round bad for you. It may taste good but it adds empty calories to your diet and has this annoying little tendency to stick around. Your body digests refined sugars quickly, so they are not a good source of sustainable energy.
If you have a sweet tooth, rather snack on foods that contain natural sugars. For example, fresh or dried fruits. The body digests these at a much slower rate and they have the added benefits of nutrients like fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Be mindful of what you eat and make sure you get bang for your buck. In other words, if you eat the calories, make sure you get the nutrients with them.
Try these snack suggestions:
- Snack on fresh or dried fruit like mangoes or dates (in moderation of course)
- Replace sugary breakfast cereals with plain, low-fat yoghurt and fruit, or steel-cut oats with yoghurt, honey or nut butter.
- Replace a sugary snack with sugar-free alternatives like Nova chocolate.
- Make your own granola bars – try this yummy granola bar recipe from Montagu!
- Bake your own healthier, sugar-free snacks. Visit the Montagu website for some ideas.
2. Up your water intake
This is such an important item on your checklist. In winter we tend to opt for hot drinks packed with caffeine and sugar like tea, coffee and hot chocolate over water or other hydrating drinks. Caffeine, while having numerous health benefits, is a diuretic, which actually increases urine flow, making our bodies lose water. So it’s important to replace those fluids with more water.
Even if the weather is still on the chilly side, you can find ways to increase your water intake:
- Replace a cup of coffee or regular tea with a cup of rooibos tea
- Follow every cup of tea or coffee with a glass of water
- Start your day off with a glass of water, or hot water and lemon
- Add mint, cucumber and fresh-cut fruit to your water bottle to make it interesting
- Keep a water bottle with you during the day when you’re on the go
- Drink a glass of water before each meal
3. Add probiotics to your diet
Probiotics, also known as good or healthy bacteria, support a healthy digestive tract and aid digestion. Probiotics have been known to restore the balance between healthy and harmful bacteria in the gut. Some strains have also been linked to improved heart health, weight loss, reduced allergies and other health benefits, so introducing a good probiotic to your diet might be a good idea for you.
Remember, always consult your GP before introducing any supplements to your diet, especially if you have a history of digestive problems.
There are supplements available at your local pharmacy, but there are also fermented foods containing natural probiotics that you can add to your diet:
- Plain, natural yoghurt – avoid the sugary kind if you can
- Kefir – a natural, milky probiotic drink
- Sauerkraut – also rich in fibre and other essential vitamins
- Kimchee – ideal for spice-lovers, kimchee is a fermented Korean side dish
- Kombucha – a popular fermented green or black tea, available in many blends and flavours
- Pickles – perfect for sandwiches, salads and on-the-go snacking
- Buttermilk – also known as “grandma’s probiotic”, buttermilk is low in fat and contains other important vitamins and minerals
4. Add some colour to your plate
Healthy food definitely looks so much more appetising when you see a variety of bright colours on your plate. But more than that, the colour of food is often an indication of what’s inside:
- White foods are often a source of dietary fibre
- Red foods tend to be a source of antioxidants
- Orange and yellow foods have been known to be a source of beta carotene which the body converts to Vitamin A
- Green foods are often a source of Vitamins C, K and E
- Blue and purple foods are often packed with compounds that act as anti-inflammatories
Shake up your meals with a variety of colours:
- Roast vegetables – mixed roast vegetables including assorted bell peppers, butternut, carrots, zucchini, red onion and patty pans, drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with herbs. Yum!
- Poke bowls – healthy poke bowls (a traditional Hawaiian dish) made with raw salmon, grilled chicken or tofu, colourful, crunchy vegetables, avocado, seeds, nuts and spices.
- Summer salads – packed with colour using lettuce, spinach, red and yellow tomatoes, carrots, beans, cucumber and more.
5. Go RAW
Raw foods still contain their natural vitamin and mineral content, which means you get all their natural goodness. Cooking on high heat can cause raw fruit and veggies to lose some of their nutrients and natural enzymes. Light steaming of vegetables is better than full submersion in hot water, but when it comes to breakfasts, lunches and snacks, where possible, choose RAW foods.
There are lots of simple ways to add raw foods to your diet:
- Granola – make granola containing your favourite raw nuts and seeds – ideal with plain yoghurt and raw honey, or sprinkled on your morning oats
- Salads – toss a handful of your favourite raw seeds into a healthy salad
- Juices and smoothies – make healthy juices and smoothies with your favourite fruits, veggies and nut butter.
- Raw dippers – enjoy cut up carrots, cucumber and baby corn with hummus or plain yoghurt
Montagu has a range of healthy, raw snacks to enjoy when you’re on the go during the day:
- Raw, date and nut truffles
- Assorted dried fruit, nut and seed snack packs and boxes
- Dried fruit, with all the concentrated goodness of fresh fruit
6. Practice mindful eating
All of us eat, but most of us don’t eat mindfully. What does that mean? It means that we have the opportunity to make every meal an event. We tend to power through meals way too quickly, and we are often full-up long before we even realise it.
Recent research suggests that mindful eating (paying attention to the way you eat and taking the time to chew and notice the different tastes and textures of every bite) can help with weight loss. You’ll eat less to feel full, improve your digestion and enjoy your meal more.
It all starts with making the time and slowing down. Always in a hurry? Set your phone or the oven timer for 20 minutes, then sit down for a more leisurely lunch.
Here are some helpful suggestions to promote mindful eating:
- Plan ahead: plan breakfasts and prepare work lunches in advance. This will help you make better food choices. Try and enjoy the process of preparing your food; pay attention to what you are doing.
- Set aside distractions: step away from your desk, turn off your screen, put your phone away, take a walk and sit outside or in a quiet place for a distraction-free meal.
- Don’t eat dinner in front of the TV: mindful eating is best done alone, but try and eat together as a family in a device-free space in the evening, pausing between mouthfuls and enjoying the moment.
- When you eat: observe the textures, colours, smells, sounds and shapes of your food. Notice how your meal feels in your hand or on your fork or spoon, and of course, how it feels in your mouth. Be aware of your breathing as you eat.
7. Add a Meatless Monday to your week
The original idea behind Meatless Mondays was to encourage people to reduce their meat intake once a week and boost servings of nutrient-packed veggies and foods that protect against heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes.
While it may require a bit of planning and creativity, Meatless Mondays can become a family favourite, especially with picky eaters!
Meatless Mondays are made so much easier with Montagu snacks, like nuts and seeds:
- Toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds for your warm butternut salad with grilled halloumi
- Make your own walnut pesto and stir into freshly cooked pasta
- Toss toasted cashews into your vegetarian stir fry’s
With the help of this handy checklist, your diet spring clean is sure to encourage better eating habits that will help you feel great. Go for it!