Spring Clean Your Pantry
Depending on where you live, the winter months may not be the most conducive to a weight loss and workout plan. Shorter days and frigid temperatures can equal less weight loss motivation to get to the gym, fewer outdoor activities and more cozying up by the heater with hot cocoa or another calorie-rich treat.
Well, it’s time to let the spring sun shed some light on what it takes to follow a weight loss eating plan. Here are some health tips on how to clean up your diet so you’re ready for the warm months to come:
Recognize that processed foods are the enemy to a healthy eating plan
By their nature, processed foods contain sugar, salt, and other additives to make them taste better and last longer on a shelf. And a recent French study found their convenience comes with a price. Scientists looked at more than 44,000 middle aged adults over eight years and found those who ate 10 percent more ultra-processed foods had a 14 percent higher risk of mortality than those who opted for fresher foods.
Cut out processed meat
There is simply no good reason to eat processed meats. These include any meats that have been treated to preserve their flavor—hot dogs, bacon, ham, sausage, and some deli meats. Even though they may be tasty and convenient, they are loaded with fat and salt (and therefore, a no-no for anyone following a weight loss eating plan). They also contain chemicals that may cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization. In a recent WHO study, 22 scientists from 10 countries looked at 800 studies and found eating 50 grams of processed meat every day (equal to four strips of bacon or one hot dog) increased people’s colorectal cancer risk by 18 percent.1 Instead of processed meats, go for safer protein sources, including seafood, certified organic chicken, tofu, low fat dairy, nuts, and eggs.
Eat like a hunter-gatherer
It’s what we use to celebrate, but ironically, when it comes to a healthy diet plan, sugar is bad news. Chocked full of empty calories, sugar does nothing but wreak havoc throughout your body, not to mention what it does to spoil your weight loss eating plan. Plus, although sugary foods will give you a boost in the short-term, they will leave you sluggish in the middle of your full body workout. Problem is, sugar is everywhere we turn—even in salad dressings, spaghetti sauces, tomato sauce, and bread. To cut back, look for ingredients that mean sugar on the ingredients label. These include high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, molasses, any other word ending in -ose, dried cane syrup, brown rice syrup, or honey.
Spice things up
When you would normally sprinkle some sugar on a food or beverage, such as cereal or coffee, try using a spice instead. Cinnamon is a universal, tasty spice with some wonderful health perks. Cinnamon can help reduce high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and elevated triglycerides—great qualities for people who are undergoing a weight loss eating plan.4 Other healthful spices include turmeric, which fights the inflammation that often plagues people who are just starting to get in shape; ginger, which aids in digestion; and nutmeg, which is a great detoxifier and antioxidant.
Shop the perimeter of the grocery store
In general, you’ll find the freshest, least processed items at your local grocery store on the outside of the store—produce, dairy, and seafood. Venture to the inside aisles, and you’ll see packaged snacks, condiments, boxed macaroni and cheese, and other ultra-processed foods.
Spring is the perfect time for a pantry detox. Cheers to warmer weather and a re-bloomed healthy eating plan.
4 The Johns Hopkins University