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Written by Jane Wark RD

Spring clean your body

01/03/2017 8:07:37 AM | 0 comments |
With warmer weather comes those feelings of “spring fever” that lead many of us to want to spring clean our homes, shape up our bodies, and push reset on unhealthy habits after months of winter sluggishness. But it’s important to know that spring cleaning your body isn’t the same as “cleansing your body” – no matter what the latest magazine food fad says.

The idea that our bodies need periodic “cleansing” or “detoxing” may be all the rage right now, but nutritionally-speaking, it’s misleading. Marketing can lead us to believe that we have “toxins” or “toxic waste” in our bodies that need to be eliminated with a special fad diet regime – anything from juice fasts to liver flushes. But the truth is, research shows there is no health benefit to these kinds of cleanses or detoxes, and in fact, they can even cause harm. 
 
So if you really want to spring clean your body, skip the fad cleanse and try the following three healthy eating habits to boost your energy and wellness the whole season long.

1. Clean up the sugar  

Canadians eat an average of 18 teaspoons of added sugar every day. This is far above the  World Health Organization’s recommended maximum six teaspoons of added sugar a day. It’s clear we eat too much sugar, but it’s also fairly easy to cut back , once you are mindful of your consumption. Challenge yourself to try one of these tips to reduce how much sugar you eat:
  • If you like coffee drinks, have traditional lattes made without sugary syrups.
  • Take a break from sugar-sweetened beverages. Try still or sparkling waters with added flavour from cucumbers or fruit.
  • Enjoy a little chocolate at special occasions like Easter, but only buy a small amount so you don’t end up eating more than you wanted.    

2. Clean up the processed foods

Not all processed foods are unhealthy, but many of them are high in salt, sugar, and fat.  They may also have added colours and other additives we don’t need. So give them a break this spring and see how much better you feel nourishing your body with real food. Try these quick fixes:
  • Pack snacks when you leave the house so you aren’t tempted to buy processed food. Try fresh whole fruits, or small baggies of vegetables, or cheese and whole-grain mini pitas or crackers.
  • Instead of canned soup, which is high in salt, make your own. It’s an easy dish to prepare, even for new cooks. Find a fresh recipe at Bcfarmersmarket.org
  • Leave the processed cereals on the shelf and  make your own granola from whole oats, nuts, dried fruits and honey. It’s easier than you think, and tasty. Here’s a Dietitians of Canada granola recipe.

3. Add some fresh vegetables for spring

Did you know that most adults need seven or eight servings of fruits or vegetables per day for optimal health? And yet, several surveys have revealed that adults eat on average only four servings of vegetables and fruit per day. Luckily, spring is the kick-off to farmer’s market season, and delicious new farm produce will soon be on offer. Choose one of these ideas to expand your palate this spring:
  • Try a new spring vegetable. This is the best time of year for young asparagus and new potatoes, fiddleheads and leeks. Learn more about what’s in season at BCFarmersmarket.org.
  • Experiment with unfamiliar produce; explore new dishes using Dietitians of Canada fennel or Swiss chard recipes.
  • Pledge to start some family dinners with a green salad served before the main course. It can help you meet your recommended fruit and vegetable servings and curb your appetite.
  • When you serve a main course, ensure that half your plate is filled with vegetables or fruit.
  • Plan now for summer harvests. Start small and you may find you love growing your own food.  Sow a few  seedlings, plant a little box garden, or simply pot some fresh herbs on your windowsill. You’ll enjoy affordable produce, while teaching your kids about the origins of food. 
Follow a few of these healthy eating tips this season to put some real spring back in your step and vitality into your body.
 
Learn more about healthy eating at Fraserhealth.ca.

 
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Practice Lead for Public Health Nutrition
Jane is a registered dietitian and the practice lead for public health nutrition in Fraser Health.
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