Now that spring has come and everything around brings a feeling of lightness, this is the perfect time to get rid of bad eating habits and make you healthier and happier. If you’re ready to break free of unhealthy habits and energize your body, it’s time for a little spring cleaning!
At the center of spring cleaning is a sugar detox. Why sugar? Sugar causes inflammation in the body, and inflammation is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It also creates an addictive cycle of hunger, fatigue, and crankiness and causes excess weight gain. Listed below are the steps to help you hit the reset button and kick your sugar cravings this spring.
Steps for spring cleanup of your nutrition.
Clean out the kitchen
Go through the cabinets and refrigerator and remove anything that has been packaged or processed. Read food labels and get rid of anything that contains ingredients you can’t pronounce. Look out for refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, diet foods, sweet and savory snacks.
A few tips for navigating the product label.
Skip calorie counting
Calories are not the best indicator of nutrition because not all calories are the same. Your body absorbs 300 calories of high fructose corn syrup, not the 300 calories of an avocado. It is more important to focus on the quality rather than the number of calories in food.
Examine the list of ingredients
The true value of food lies in the list of its ingredients. Ingredients are ordered by quantity in the product — so anything listed first is the main ingredient, while those closer to the end are lighter in weight. Look for whole foods that you recognize and stay away from the sugary foods listed at the beginning. As a rule, the fewer ingredients listed, the more useful and real the product will be.
Don’t Believe Health Claims
If a product label advertises that it contains no fat or sugar, chances are that an extra serving of sugar substitutes or chemicals was added to make up for it. Read these ingredients! Beware of products advertised as “all natural” as they may contain chemicals and growth hormones.
And remember — when in doubt, you can never go wrong with whole foods that don’t need a label or disguise — like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and more.
Restock your kitchen
Now that you’ve given up sugar and cleaned up your kitchen, what can you eat? Focus on eating the most saturated foods: healthy fats, fiber, and protein. Fat, fiber and protein will keep you full and keep your blood sugar stable. Choose avocados, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, and coconut oil for healthy fats. Eat plenty of fresh, seasonal vegetables for fiber. And lean meat, eggs, fish and legumes are protein. These goodies need to be available at every meal (and therefore in the kitchen) to keep blood sugar balanced and curb sugar cravings.
So, your kitchen should now be filled with healthy, satisfying food, but you should also be prepared for the time when you can’t eat at home. Stock up on healthy food to grab a quick bite or take on the go. Your stock may include flax chips, unsalted nuts, pumpkin seeds, fruit, dried fruit, natural yogurt, etc.
Drink more water
Your body is 60% water, and almost every system in the body needs it to function. The best way to detoxify your body is to drink more water. Water with lemon aids digestion and cleanses your body (lemon helps maximize the function of enzymes that stimulate the liver and aid detoxification). Start each day with a glass of filtered water and the juice of half a lemon. Keep drinking water throughout the day and consider post-workout coconut water to replenish your reserves.
The first week of a sugar detox can be challenging (heavy cravings, headaches, fatigue, and many other symptoms), but the benefits are worth it! Once the sugar is out of your system, you will start to feel like a more energized, more positive, and clear person, and maybe even lose weight naturally. I recommend taking a friend/girlfriend to make sure you’re accountable and motivated to take on this spring cleaning.
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