Sally was feeling sluggish and exhausted all day long. No matter how healthy she was eating, she always felt hungry, craved sweets and even experienced shakiness in between meals. It was frustrating, to say the least.
What could possibly be going wrong? A closer look at her diet and it became clear that her healthy eating patterns were full of unwanted sugars and sometimes lacking in healthy fats. She didn’t realize it but added sugars were in almost everything she was eating. Foods that seemed healthy on the surface were actually not very nourishing and she lacked balance at her meals. After cleaning up her habits a bit and focusing on more natural foods she was feeling more sustained and her cravings were significantly decreased.
Your turn. Are you ready to clean up your eating environment? Spring is when we tend to open our windows at home, clean out all the dust and clutter from the colder months and welcome in fresh air, good energy and sunshine. Below is a checklist of things you can do to clean up your eating habits and food environment, starting with your pantry and countertops. Pick one or check them all off, it’s up to you!
- Ditch the cereal and switch things up with an egg and veggie omelet, our high protein cookies or a Greek yogurt parfait. Protein is just as important at breakfast as it is at dinnertime. We should evenly distribute our protein intake throughout the day instead of overloading at our last meal. Cereals just don’t have much protein to offer and often contain lots of sugar. If you need more convincing, a Cornell study found that women who had breakfast cereal sitting on their counters weighed 20-lbs more than their neighbors who didn’t. At very minimum, keep your cereal tucked away in your pantry. Use it to make a fun trail mix or as an afternoon treat.
- Find at least 2 foods in your pantry (or fridge) with added sugars and seek alternatives to these products. Start checking the ingredient lists on your foods and you will soon realize that sugar, much like salt, is added to just about everything. Some surprising places you will find sugar is in your pasta sauce, mustard, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, fat-free salad dressings, and canned beans. Added sugars are also abundant in yogurt and whole grain products. Women should keep their added calories to 6 teaspoons or 25 grams per day.** If we aren’t careful all those little doses from unsuspecting places can add up! Then we won’t have room for a teaspoon in our coffee or a piece of dark chocolate. (GASP!) We don’t want to miss out on that, now do we?
- Keep your favorite junk foods out of the house or at least hard to reach. Out of sight, out of “stomach.” There are certain foods that we tend to overeat, especially when stress hits. These foods are different for everyone. You might not be able to resist ice cream, while someone else may be more tempted by a bag of potato chips. Whatever foods seem to tempt you the most, should be the ones you keep out of the house. These foods aren’t forbidden, we just don’t want to make them readily available and convenient. But what if you have hungry kids or unwilling family members? Keep all tempting snacks in a hard to reach, inconvenient cabinet – not at eye level. Wrap items in the freezer, like ice cream, in aluminum foil. They will be less tempting when you can’t see the package.
- Only keep 1-2 sodas in your fridge at one time and make water easily accessible. Occasionally, a sweet drink is fine but when you are doing it regularly you are putting yourself at risk for health concerns and sugar crashes. To cut back keep sodas off your counter and only one or two in your fridge at a time. In the same study mentioned above, those with soft drinks sitting out on their counter weighed 24 to 26-lbs more than those who didn’t.
To end on a positive note: those who had fruit on their counter weighed LESS and likely ate more fruit. So, clear off those countertops, hide the junk and put the nourishing fruit on display!
It’s all about setting yourself up for well-balanced success. Bring on the good energy and life-sustaining eating habits! Happy cleaning!
Food For Thought: Will any of these spring cleaning tasks work for you? Why or why not? Which one(s) will you try today? Comment below.
*These suggestions are based off research from Brian Wansink, author of Slim By Design. Check it out!
**The American Heart Association recommends reductions in the intake of added sugars. A prudent upper limit of intake is half of the discretionary calorie allowance, which for most American women is no more than 100 calories per day and for most American men is no more than 150 calories per day from added sugars.