37337557_sAs we finally start digging out from under a ton of snow in many areas of the country and simply look forward to the words “start of spring” on our calendars, here are a few health habits we should make an effort to address and embrace for our annual spring cleaning efforts. 

“Clean Eating” is a new buzz term that people are becoming more aware of, but what does it mean, exactly? Basically, anything that comes in a box, bag or can should be tossed. Instead, opt for the natural choices, such as fruits and veggies and homemade recipes. If that sounds too boring or inconvenient, consider smoothies and other ways to enjoy your food on-the-go.

Here are some other ways to “Spring Clean” your diet:

  • Go through your cupboards and refrigerator and toss stale or old food.
  • While you’re at it, toss anything that comes in a bag, box or package. Some cans may also qualify, but you can donate some of these non-perishables to a local food cupboard. You are going to choose only FRESH foods now, such as things you can buy at a farmer’s market or within the produce and fresh fish aisle. Avoid the frozen food section.
  • Read the packaging labels. Anything high in sodium, high fructose syrup (aka- processed sugars), or that has too many ingredients that you can’t pronounce. Instead choose things that are one ingredient. Grapes, for example, are just as uncomplicated as it gets. This is necessary to spring clean your diet.
  • Stop eating fast food or restaurant foods. Not only are these terrible for you (even some salads), they are chock full of preservatives that give them a longer shelf life. Not only will you save your health, you will save a lot of money.
  • While you’re at it, make more home-cooked meals. This is one of the flaws in our society amid the bustle of running a household and working full time. People cook less and eat out more, which is making us more obese and causing serious health problems. Restaurants should be a special treat, not an every-other-day thing. You can find quick and easy recipes online if you are in a rush, and your family will love it.
  • Start new traditions. If your family is scattered at dinnertime, make everyone come to the dinner table. They might balk at first, but over time you will all appreciate that half an hour of “togetherness” and the kids will remember it someday.
  • Stop eating on the couch or in the living room. By eating at the table, you are making your mealtime more deliberate, which can also help your diet and make the cleanup task easier to manage.
  • Watch the “Forks over Knives” documentary and make your entire family view it as well. It is guaranteed to change your perspective on the foods we consume.

Start recognizing situations when you are prone to unhealthy eating or snacking and make an effort to replace those actions with stress-relieving activities instead, such as taking a walk, yoga, weightlifting, tennis, or even something less physically demanding such as billiards or a board game.

It may take time to switch to a clean eating regime, so consider Pareto’s Law, which is an 80/20 ratio. If you eat clean 80% of the time and keep a few things you can’t live without within that 20% ratio, then you will be more successful than if you try to eliminate everything all at once. The idea is that over time, you will adapt and eventually enjoy the way you feel more after you decide that clean eating and living is for you.