Spring Clean Your Diet

By Heather Cunningham, RD, CNSC

Spring will be here before you know it, and the warmer weather can bring thoughts of new approaches to nutrition and health. More and more, people are trying to eliminate chemicals from their bodies and want their food to be healthier. “Eating Clean” is a new diet state of mind that does not focus on weight loss but on improving health.

What exactly does “Eating Clean” mean? The pillars of eating clean include avoiding junk and processed foods and making more wholesome, healthy choices. Many aspects of this eating plan are steps that people already follow but “Eating Clean” focuses on going back to the basics. How can you “Eat Clean?”

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Eliminate all processed foods from your diet (and pantry). This includes any food that has a label. Foods such as whole wheat pasta or natural cheeses are widely accepted on this eating regimen, however, if you cannot pronounce or identify an ingredient on the label; put that food back on the shelf.
  • Choose whole foods. Whole foods have not been processed or originate from a manufacturing plant. Fruits, vegetables, grass-fed and free-range meats, low-fat dairy products, unsalted nuts and seeds are good choices.
  • Stay away from refined sugars. These are empty and non-nutritive calories.
  • Get comfortable in the kitchen. That’s right, cook your own meals. By preparing your food, you know what is going into the meal and have 100 percent control of ingredients. Stay away from meals coming from a box. Wholesome meats and produce need little prep through sautéing or baking to make delicious and healthy meals that you (and your family) will love.
  • Eat five to six small meals a day. By eating more frequently, our bodies store less excessive calories that can be ingested at larger meals. Listen to your body and be aware when and why you’re eating.

March is National Nutrition Month, a great time to improve your health and diet. Changing the way you eat can be overwhelming at first, but over time your tastes will change. The way to make permanent changes is to introduce them slowly. Remember it’s important to treat yourself once in awhile, but this means a meal or snack, not going off track for a week. Give yourself time and you will slowly begin to feel healthier both mentally and physically!

Registered Dietician Heather Cunningham, CNSC, is Sodexo Clinical Nutrition Manager and member of the Institute for Weight Loss at Raritan Bay Medical Center. For more good health and nutrition tips visit mycentraljerseyhealth.com. For more information about the Institute for Weight loss call 1-855-TIME-4-ME.

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