Now that spring is here, finally, a lot of us are gearing up for spring cleaning. While yes, it is important to scrub every corner of your home once in a while, why not concentrate on your pantry? Registered dietitian Carrie Gabriel, from Steps2Nutrition, shares her tips for spring cleaning your diet.
1. Eat Healthy Fats
According to Gabriel, fats are not the (complete) enemy in the American diet. “Your body actually needs fat in order to aid in the absorption of certain vitamins, therefore a diet devoid of fat is, in fact, a diet that’d leave you devoid of essential vitamins,” Gabriel says.
Her go-to choices are olive oil for salads and cold dishes, and coconut oil for cooking and baking. “Coconut oil can actually help aid in weight loss, targeting belly fat and helping boost your metabolism. Coconut oil also helps to control blood sugar levels,” Gabriel adds. She also suggests eating every two to three hours to aide in blood sugar levels.
2. Cut out Processed Foods
This may sound like the most difficult thing to do, provided the hectic pace most Americans lead, however Gabriel says it may be the most important. “Clean eating is NOT a diet, it is a lifestyle choice,” she explains. “When someone chooses to ‘eat clean’ they are choosing to eliminate all processed foods and extra additives from their diet, leaving room for only whole, unrefined foods.”
If packaged foods cannot be avoided, Gabriel suggests looking for ones with as few ingredients as possible.
3. Find the Greens
Gabriel suggests getting back to nature when eating fruits and vegetables. Avoid fruit in syrup, which adds to the natural sugar in the food. Some of her favorite vegetables include spinach, kale, chard, arugula, broccoli, bok choy, collard greens and bell peppers because of their high vitamin and fiber content.
4. Choose the Right Grains
“You can enjoy grains, but stick to whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, pats and the like,” suggests Gabriel. “These grains give you energy, fiber and take longer to digest so they keep you full longer.”
Gabriel says substituting for alternative flours, like coconut or almond, are great choices for those with dietary restrictions, like a gluten allergy.
5. Opt for Meat Straight from the Butcher
Just like the vegetables, Gabriel says real is best. “Make sure your meat is straight from the butcher, or, at the very least, they are organic and not pre-packaged,” she explains. Her choices are wild salmon and organic chicken or turkey to avoid added antibiotics.
Overall, Gabriel says being resourceful with the dishes can help keep the motivation going. “Try to eat things with minimal ingredients and get creative,” she says. “Broccoli with salsa? Chicken marinated with mustard and lemon pepper? Sweet potatoes baked with a little coconut oil and cinnamon? All delicious and all clean!”