There’s no getting around the fact that I have had a disastrous winter diet this year. I liberated my friends, Discipline and Self-control, somewhere in late May. The result has seen the scale jump by a terrifyingly impressive number and left me with a single pair of jeans I can barely squeeze into. To make matters worse, I haven’t been nearly as physically active as I usually am which accelerated the downward spiral. This has left me sleeping poorly, with dull skin tone and limp hair and well, just feeling generally sluggish and blech.
With the weather seemingly warming up overnight, I’m suddenly filled with despair at the prospect of going into spring feeling generally unhealthy. It’s time to pull myself together and recall Discipline and Self-control from their winter vacation. Regaining my jeans size is a two-part process: clean up the diet and get moving! I’m dealing with the “get moving” part by following our Winter training tips. Now I need to Spring clean the diet.
The great thing is, if you focus on wellness and not weight loss, you can start feeling better pretty quickly. This is not about following a faddish “detox” or “cleanse” programme. This is about a cleanse of your diet; a kick-start to encourage healthy, sustainable eating (for you AND your family) and feeling better as a result.
There are two simple overriding principles for a cleaner diet: Firstly, to the extent possible, eat only fresh, whole foods and avoid processed food. Secondly, moderation is key.
With this in mind, here are 10 steps to Spring cleaning your diet and kick-start the journey back to radiance.
STEP 1: CLEAN-OUT YOUR PANTRY
Get rid of the junk. Go into your pantry and fridge replace all your naughty snacks and indulgences with fresh fruits, plain yogurt and nuts. When you have a snack craving, at least you won’t default to ultra-processed rubbish and hopefully grab a piece of fruit instead.
STEP 2: PLAN YOUR MEALS
Plan your menu for the week or at least, the following day, in advance. Create a menu and stick to it. Remember the key principles: keep it fresh and unprocessed. Prepare anything you need to the night before, and pack lunches and snacks to take to work. (Check out our delicious recipe for Protein Power muffins for a great balanced snack.)
STEP 3: PORTION CONTROL
Measuring food and calories can be time consuming and a pain in the butt. Manage your calorie intake more easily by following some simple portion control tips below. This guideline is based on the assumption that you’ll generally be eating 4 times a day. Aim for 4 portions of protein and veggies, 2-3 portions of carbohydrates and 2-3 portions of fats per day.
For protein (meat, fish, eggs, dairy, or beans), it’s recommended that women add one palm size serving (the same thickness and diameter as your palm) to each meal.
For veggies make sure you have at least 1 fist-sized portion (the thickness and diameter of your fist) with each meal.
For carbohydrates such as grains, starches, or fruits, 1 cupped-hand sized portion with most meals is recommended for women.
For fats like oils, butters, nut butters, nuts and seeds, its recommended that women have 1 full thumb size portion with most meals.
While it’s not an exact science, it’s a quick and easy way to help guestimate how much you should be eating and hopefully avoid over-eating.
STEP 4: LOAD UP ON FRESH PRODUCE
Add loads of fresh produce to your diet in a variety of colours. The more vibrant the colour of the fruit or vegetable, the more vitamins and minerals it has. Eating an array of colors ensures that you get the benefits of all of them.
STEP 5: REDUCE SUGAR AND SALT INTAKE
It’s a well-known fact that too much sugar and salt is bad for you. Read labels carefully looking for hidden sugars and salt. Items such as store bought tomato sauce and chutney are loaded with sugar while “healthy” items such as canned beans and lentils can be very high in salt. If you purchase these, rinse them thoroughly before eating
STEP 6: GO ORGANIC AND GRASS FED
Invest in your food and reduce your exposure to GMO’s, potentially harmful chemicals and toxins. Unfortunately it is more expensive, but buy as much organic dairy & fresh produce and grass-fed meat as you can.
STEP 7: ADD PROBIOTICS TO YOUR DIET
Add probiotics to your diet for improved digestive health and immunity. Happy gut, happy you! Natural sources such as yoghurt are always best but if you can’t stomach these, speak to your doctor about a supplement. Or try our Tiger Tonic to boost your immune system and aid digestion.
STEP 8: CUT BACK ON ALCOHOL
Sigh, yes. Alcohol is basically worthless in terms of nutrition, has loads of calories and generally causes you to make less healthy food choices. Healthy, sustainable eating is about moderation, and that extends to alcohol, too. This means no more than one drink a day for women of all ages.
STEP 9: DRINK MORE WATER
Replace sweetened drinks and an excessive coffee habit (guilty) with water or green and herbal teas. Keep a big jug of water to hand at all times. Add some lemon, lime or cucumber slices with some mint for a refreshing twist. In addition to improving hydration, water helps to flush toxins, control your appetite and increase your metabolism.
STEP 10: GET MORE SLEEP!
This is something we here at Equilibrio are constantly going on about because getting a good night’s sleep is key to overall good health and wellness. It boosts your immune system, improves energy levels and helps weight loss by regulating metabolism and appetite.
Check out Michelle’s useful tips on how to get a good night’s sleep.
Right, I’m off to regain my youthful radiance through a clean diet!