When people hear the term “spring cleaning,” they generally think of cleaning their homes, cars, or maybe even their desk at work. But spring cleaning can also apply to the body, as well. Here are a few simple steps to help your body operate more cleanly and efficiently.
Eliminate Sugar From Your Diet
Sugar has been found to be quite addictive - one taste of it will trick your brain into wanting more and more. But the more you’re able to cut sugar out of your diet, the healthier you’ll feel. Excessive sugar consumption may lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Reducing the amount of sugar you intake reduces the risk of these conditions.
Now, there is a difference between “added sugars” and “natural sugars.” Natural sugars are found in things like fruits and vegetables and are healthful additions to your diet, at least when consumed in moderation. Added sugars are found in everything from soda to candy to your favorite chocolate bar, and the National Institute of Health (NIH) estimates that adults in the United States get roughly 15% of their calories from added sugars, which is a very high number.
So, what are some ways to start cutting sugar out of your diet?
- Read product labels: Every product you buy from the grocery store will have a list of ingredients on the packaging. Pay attention to what is in the food you are buying, and try to stay away from foods that have any, or at least high, amounts of added sugars.
- Avoid sugary drinks: That soda that you love? It’s filled with added sugars. The same most likely goes for most of your favorite teas and even fruit juices. Look for drinks without any added sugars. Buying orange juice? Purchase a product that lists its only ingredient as “orange juice.”
- Take your time: It’s important not to rush the process and try to go cold turkey. Start with a few food groups or products, and expand out over time. It will make the transition much easier both physically and mentally.
Add Fruits and Vegetables
Odds are that most of us at one point growing up heard our parents scold us for not eating all of our vegetables. Well, it turns out there was a good reason for them wanting us to finish them. Vegetables and fruits are an extremely important part of a healthy diet, and a diet rich in vegetables and fruits can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and have a positive effect on blood sugar.
Consuming certain fruits and vegetables can also be a great source of vitamins, such as Vitamin C, that are necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. The next time you are hungry and looking for a snack, instead of reaching for the chips or candy, try grabbing an apple, a banana or some grapes. Instead of raiding the snack counter at work, bring some pre-cut fruits and veggies from home and enjoy a satisfying, healthy, low-calorie, yet still tasty snack.
Cook At Home
Who doesn’t love going out to eat or ordering your favorite dish from a delivery service? But the problem is you generally have no idea what ingredients are used to cook your food, or how impactful they may be on your health.
The easiest way to solve that problem? Start preparing your own meals at home. According to research done by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, people who regularly cook meals at home eat healthier and consume fewer calories than those who cook less. The reasoning stands that when you prepare the food yourself, you take ownership of what goes into it, which likely results in the use of healthier ingredients and more regulated portion sizes.
You are also more likely to eat fewer calories without even realizing it. Most restaurant dishes are filled with butter, salt and loads of other unhealthy ingredients. When you prepare a meal at home, however, you have total control over what goes into your food and are less likely to saturate your food with those same unhealthy ingredients.
Cooking and preparing your meals at home can also allow you to spend more time with family, friends and loved ones. Try making it a family activity by getting your partner or kids involved. Take an activity that could be lonesome and boring and make it a fun activity for the entire family!