There is something about that first sunny day, when its warm in the sun and chilly in the shade that makes me want to start clearing out the cobwebs.  I start cleaning out the closets, the garage, the pantry and the fridge and then I start cleaning up my diet.  And when I’m talking about my diet, I’m not talking about changing my habits temporarily to lose weight, but to align my nutrition with a healthy lifestyle.  

Here are eight tips to Spring clean your diet:

What’s your objective? What do you want to achieve by cleaning up your diet? Do you want eliminate processed foods, decrease your sodium, or lose weight?  Think about what drives you and write it down to remind yourself when bad habits, or foods, start creeping in.

Set a date. Decide on a day to commit.  Don’t just say, “I’ll do it when….”. Make the commitment! There will always be obstacles, its called life. Learning to navigate around life’s obstacles, whether it be environmental, physical, or emotional, is part of the process. A good practice in starting any new program, change or commitment is to identify all the possible obstacles to your success and create strategies to overcome them.

Clean out your fridge. Clean out your pantry. What foods tempt you to go against your goal?  What foods end with guilt?  What foods upset your stomach? Toss them!  Why set yourself up for frustration.  If you are uncomfortable with throwing away food, give it away, take it to the office, or feed your friends.  Don’t get stuck in the “let me eat it all first” mentality!  I promise, it doesn’t end.  Remember that commitment you just made?

Read labels. Go back to your fridge and pantry and double check those labels.  Foods to banish: foods high in sugar and ingredients that include high fructose corn syrup or trans fat (anything hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated). Don’t give it a second look, its time to break up with those foods for good!

Create a meal plan. Meal planning will guide your grocery list.  Plan your breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners for at least a week.  Aim for meals that are half vegetables, include lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains.  Plan for healthy and balanced snacks and at least 2 servings of vegetables a day. Choose food you love… this is not a punishment, this is a reward and betterment of your health and life.

Refresh. Refresh your fridge with fresh veggies, healthy fats, yummy fruits, whole grains and lean proteins.  How can you make these foods easy to grab or prepare?  Cut your veggies for snacks ahead of time, use your tuberware to pack up lunches or pre-made dinners, experiment with spices and herbs for new flavors.

Find resources. What do you need help with?  Recipes? Motivation to eat healthy? Time management strategies? Leaning about healthy meals and snacks?  Find your resources before you are frustrated.  Your resources can be family, friends, online resources, books, or a professional – such as a dietitian. Arm yourself for success.

Share with friends. Maybe a friend or family member would like to join your ‘Spring cleaning’. You can share resources, provide motivation, or do meal planning together.  You never know what you can learn from others.