Spring is a time of year that we beautifully tend to associate with cleaning, freshness and growth.
We slough off the clutter that tends to come with Winter and make clean space in our life for new things to grow…
Let’s apply that Spring theme to our diet plan and nutrition habits too!
It’s normal to eat heavier foods in larger portions during the Winter as we try to get through a time of darker days, colder weather and holiday engagements.
But there are so many toxic ingredients in food that tends to get classified as Winter junk food (processed sugars, grains and preservatives).
Now that it’s Spring, let’s take that fresh energy and use it as an opportunity to clean up the diet and get rid of anything that is no longer serving you.
While we’re at, let’s immediately replace these food items that don’t serve you, with things that do serve you-foods that contribute to health, growth, energy and vitality.
To prevent from turning this into an intense dietary shift, let’s start with just a handful of changes-it will feel more manageable and you will be more likely to make these changes permanent.
(Note: often when people consider cleaning up their diet they resort to fasting. Please make sure you’re informed before engaging in any fasting. You can read about dietary detoxes, cleanses and fasting on my blog here, you can set up a nutrition counseling appointment with me here, or you can work with your local Registered Dietician for even more information.)
Here are my recommended 5 Spring Cleaning Food Swaps:
1) Swap out fried chips for dehydrated fruit or veggie chips.
People who like chips tend to really enjoy the crunchiness of them more than anything. It’s a stimulating, rhythmic and almost vibrational experience to crunch on some chips.
If this is true for you, then you will agree that it makes sense to replace your greasy potato or corn chips with another crunchy product.
Fortunately, it’s quite easy to make several natural foods crunchy because you simply have to dehydrate them!
As a result, there are SO MANY crunchy health foods on the market such as root vegetable chips, dehydrated fruit, crispy snap peas and much more!
Ditch the potato chips full of addictive food additives, and opt for one of these healthy snack alternatives when looking for a crunch!
2) Use olive or avocado oil instead of canola or vegetable oils.
Canola and vegetable oils are wrongfully marketed as healthy-they are not. In fact, they are known to be quite toxic to the body.
(Check out my Clean Eating blog for more information on toxic foods.)
Instead, use healthy oil alternatives such as olive oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil or flax seed oil.
All of these oils come with anti-inflammatory, hormone balancing and cardiovascular health benefits.
Each of these oils will have their own unique flavor, recommended use and smoking point but it is not difficult to use them in lieu of canola or vegetable oil.
3) Drink water infusions instead of soda and juice,
The copious amounts of sugars in processed juices and sodas have long been a point of caution given to people looking to improve their health.
Unfortunately, if you’re used to 90% of your liquids being sweetened, it can be quite torturous to switch over to water.
This is where water infusions and cold steeped teas come in to save the day!
Water infusions are simply water that has had fruit and/ or herbs soaking in it to infuse the flavor. Instead of sugar or syrup, you’re using the natural flavors of your favorite fresh ingredients to make your water more visually and orally enticing.
Cold steeped tea is just steeping a tea bag in cold water (usually a large amount) throughout the day. You can keep topping off your water to dilute the flavor as it gets stronger and you can use whatever tea you want (I recommend fruit blends).
4) Swap your desserts out for parfaits.
Dessert is a more common indulgence in Winter than during any other time of the year.
Because of that, it can be hard to get out of the habit of eating a slice of pie after dinner.
Instead of completely removing it though, why don’t we swap out that sugary, buttery mass for a healthy dessert that includes ingredients that remind us that it’s Spring!
Parfaits with seasonal fruit and Greek yogurt is one of my favorite ways to do this!
The probiotic yogurt acts as a digestive after dinner, while offering protein and nutrients. The fruits bring in fiber and nutrients of their own, and you’re able to fully enjoy your sweet treat-guilt free!
(Learn more about the positive effects of probiotic foods on my Gut Health blog.)
5) Drink green tea instead of a second cup of coffee.
Coffee is admittedly most women’s biggest food addiction, but the reality is that high amounts of caffeine are really bad for your body.
While your first cup of coffee may not have many negative effects, drinking coffee all day long definitely will.
Eventually you will get a “wired and tired” feeling of not really feeling awake enough, but not being tired enough to sleep really well-this is a big indication of overconsumption of caffeine.
Caffeine detox can be quite painful so if you’re an all-day coffee drinker, start by swapping your daytime coffee with green tea.
Not only is green tea lower in caffeine, but it is also rich with antioxidants and has an amino acid in it that promotes bodily relaxation-this will help prevent the jittery restlessness and anxiety that tends to come with daytime coffees.
Progressively you will want to work on reducing your caffeine intake to none in the afternoon and maybe even take 1-12 weeks off of caffeine entirely to allow your body to detox.
It’s that easy my FitWitches!
These are simple things that you can start working on TODAY to bring that clean Spring energy into your life and your body-and we’re not taking anything away from you, we’re just replacing them with things that match the seasonal energy.
Try out all, or just one of these food swaps today and journal about the process-notate how you feel (both physically and emotionally) during these changes.
It’s time to make space for better things and grow into them…
You are capable and YOU DESERVE IT!
This article was written by Elexis Smolak CPT, CNC, founder of Adapted Fitness and Integrative Health and Fitness Specialist for Women. Learn more or schedule a virtual coffee at AdaptedToYou.com