Tomorrow marks the official start of spring and there's no better time to make a fresh start when it comes to your diet. Summer might be just around the corner, but you have plenty of time to make some healthy adjustments before the hot weather and bathing suit season arrives.
But there are lots of reasons to give your diet a spring cleaning. Here are 10 ways to clean up your pantry and overhaul your diet to help you lose weight, sleep better and look younger:
1. Be vegan until dinner time.
A plant-based diet has many benefits, including supporting heart health and managing your weight. However, completely switching to a vegan diet can be hard. Try making your meals and snacks vegan until dinner time to give the digestive system a break and get in the habit of eating more veggies while still satisfying your cravings. Just make sure to watch your portions and prepare your dinners in a healthy way -- going green all day isn't an excuse to pig out later on.
2. Shop according to the rainbow.
Make sure to pick up produce in all colors of the rainbow when you go shopping. Fruits and vegetables get their vibrant colors thanks to the presence of antioxidant compounds like carotenoids that support cellular health, immunity and vibrant skin. Try to keep your fridge looking like Roy G. Biv at all times.
3. Purge the processed foods.
While there are good, natural options out there, most processed foods are packed with preservatives, sugar, salt and unnatural ingredients. Purging them from your pantry and fridge is a great way to start fresh this season and also serves as motivation to get into the kitchen more and recreate the items you're missing from scratch.
4. Change out your dishes.
When it comes to meal time, you may not be aware how many calories you're eating by filling your plate. First and foremost, pack away the large dinner plates for the season and switch to soup bowls and salad plates. These smaller dishes can help you with portion control. You'll still see a full plate but actually be eating a much healthier amount.
5. Do your plate division.
Now that you have the right eating vessel, think about how you use it. The best way is to make sure one half of your plate is full of vegetables and fruits -- you can never have too many of those. The other half should be divided into two parts: one part protein and one part grains and/or starches.
6. Set hydration reminders.
Drinking water is essential for tissue health, metabolism and a wealth of other benefits. But drinking enough of it isn't easy for everyone. An easy trick is to set reminders on your phone. You use it to keep track of everything else, so what could be more important than your health? Eight 8 fl oz-glasses of water is best -- try setting eight alarms to help you get into the habit.
7. Have your superfoods in the morning.
For a burst of energy first thing in the morning while also knocking out some of your servings of vital fruits and vegetables, try having a green juice when you get up. Packed with vitamins and minerals, it will help wake you up while also providing nutrients.
8. Swap out the soda for tea.
We don't need to list all the reasons soda is bad for you, but it can be a hard habit to kick. Why not switch it out for tea? Brewed hot or cold, there isn't a beverage much healthier than tea. Many cultures have tea with meals the aid digestion and the metabolism. Green tea is wonderful for this purpose thanks to its wealth of antioxidants.
9. Don't forget the extras.
When you think of overhauling your pantry or fridge, many people forget about the sneakier items that can add extra calories or unwanted artificial ingredients like condiments as well as cooking oils or sprays. Ditch the artificial for natural options like coconut oil, red palm oil or extra virgin olive oil for cooking and making your own dressings. If you do go for anything prepackaged, look for organic whenever possible.
10. Schedule a meal prep day.
Now that you have the diet down, stick to it by picking one day a week to do all your meal prep. This may include hitting the farmer's market or grocery store and then taking the time to cook meals for the week. Bake some whole grain muffins for a quick breakfast and a wholesome entree to pack up in separate containers to grab on the way to work. As for dinner, you can pre-marinade proteins and chop veggies in advance for quick assembly.
Stick to these 10 tips and spring can be your healthiest season yet. Check back tomorrow for more health news and stay well.