5 Tips to Spring-Clean Your Diet

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Many folks are trying to get ready for the warm weather, outdoor activities and, of course, wearing fewer clothes. Instead of worrying about how you’ll look in a bathing suit, use these five simple tips to clean your diet and hopefully shed a few pounds.

#1: Slash the sugar.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines stressed the importance of minimizing added sugar to 10 percent or less of your daily calories. Instead of cutting sugar out completely, look for small ways to cut back on it. For example, lessen or eliminate the amount of sugar added to your coffee and tea, choose plain yogurt without added sugar or toppings, or stop drinking sugary sodas and opt for water or seltzer instead.

#2: Add vegetables.

Spring is filled with seasonal vegetables like lettuce, bok choy, kale and spinach. Whenever possible, add vegetables to meals like sandwiches or omelets. Instead of processed snack foods, eat wholesome vegetables with a dip like hummus.

#3: Pulse up.

The United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses, a food category that includes dry peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. These foods are high in protein, fiber and healthy unsaturated fat. Add lentils to salads, make a bean dip for veggies, or try roasted chickpeas.

#4: Choose highly processed foods carefully.

Many of the excess calories and much of the salt in your diet may come from highly processed foods that aren’t really necessary. Many food companies have come out with better-for-you foods to snack on, like Dang Foods Coconut Chips, Siggi’s yogurt and Sensible Portions Pea Poppers. Do your research and choose snack foods with simple ingredients you can pronounce. These snacks should also add essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals to your diet.

#5: Minimize alcohol.

Unfortunately, alcohol is not essential to your diet. Every serving of alcohol adds around 100 to 150 calories, not counting any mix-ins for cocktails. If you’re an avid drinker of wine, beer or spirits, you may want to cut back to the recommended amount. Per the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, men should consume no more than two drinks per day and women a maximum of one drink per day. One drink is defined as 5 fluid ounces of wine, 12 fluid ounces of beer or 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof liquor (like rum or vodka).

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.