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In the book “In Defense of Food,” author Michael Pollan writes:
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
How simple life would be if we could all consistently follow that ridiculously simple advice. As the bounty of nature recedes over the frozen winter horizon, for many of us, so does our commitment to eating well. If you are anything like me, it is easy to allow comfort food, chocolate and red wine to creep in on more than an occasional basis to take the edge off winter.
Thankfully, the return of spring naturally catalyzes a desire to lighten up and refresh. When it comes to eating right, being consistent about making better choices, however small, add up. Follow these tips (the more the better) to add some spring to your step:
- Hydrate. Most of us are chronically dehydrated. This spring, ditch the warming coffees and hot chocolates (and the extra liquid calories) in favour of good quality drinking water (I like filtered, alkalized, room temperature best) to support elimination and metabolism. Make sure to drink half your body weight (eg. a 160 lb person would need 80 oz or 10 glasses/day) daily for best benefits. A great way to start your day is to drink warm water with fresh lemon squeezed into it.
- Drop a starch (or two). Root vegetables and grains are readily available and make for great comfort food over the winter months. Starches are essentially concentrated sugars and unless you are very physically active, chances are you tend to eat more than you need. Opt for leafy greens and healthy fats (think avocado, fatty fish, nuts, or coconut oil) to round out your meal at least once per day and notice how much lighter you feel.
- Reduce/eliminate sugar. Giving up sugar is one of the greatest things you can do to improve your health. The easiest way to avoid sugar is to eat whole foods, since sugar hides under many names in processed foods. Other strategies include choosing water over smoothies/juices, choosing vegetables over fruit (I consider 2 pieces of fruit/day a healthy maximum), and including protein in every meal (especially breakfast).
- Increase your fiber. A recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that simply increasing the amount of fiber you eat—even if everything else about your diet stays the same—will help you lose weight just as successfully as if you were following a strict diet plan. Fiber has many benefits – it satisfies hunger; is loaded with nutrients; detoxifies; promotes weight loss; improves blood sugar and cholesterol profiles, and slows aging. Aim for a minimum of 30 g/day. High fiber foods include vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, beans and whole grains.
- Eat fresh. Substitute winter root vegetables in favour of spring arrivals such as leafy greens, asparagus spears, fiddleheads, green beans and fresh peas.
- Make a weekly meal plan. Cooking is the best health insurance. Planning a weekly menu and cooking results in less takeout and decreased food costs, as well as lower calorie intake with smaller portions and healthier ingredients. It is also the only way to ensure what foods end up on your dinner plate. Invest a few hours a week stocking and prepping, to ensure timely and efficient meal preparation during the busy weekdays.
Enjoy the return of the sun 🙂