Spring Clean Your Diet

Summer is coming. And with it comes less clothing and more swimsuits. That can be a scary time of year, but with proper diet and exercise, it doesn’t have to be. We tapped into our friend Jessica of Jessica Marcus Nutrition, one of the best nutritionist we know, for some advice on how to spring clean your diet.

We love Jessica’s approach to nutrition because she has the clinical side but also takes a more holistic approach. Her claim to fame? Creating recipes that prep in 7 minutes or less- perfect for moms and busy people.

This is what she had to say:

1. Don’t wait until you get to work to eat breakfast. If you don’t tell your body there’s food available, it’ll shift to fat storage mode. Eat breakfast within 45 mins of waking up to light up your metabolism. And try to reach for something protein rich like eggs, nuts and seeds, bean burritos or leftovers from the night before. Like to workout first thing? Try half a banana or scoop of almond butter to stoke your system.

2. Get rid of all sugars and artificial sweeteners. Sugar spikes your blood glucose, which raises your insulin (a hormone that stokes your hunger and tells your body to store the calories as fat). Studies suggest fake sugars do the same, so just cut them out of your daily habits, like now. Satisfy sweet cravings with berries and sweet veggies like roasted carrots, beets and yams. If you must have some added sweetness, try a drizzle of honey or maple syrup instead. And curb the cakes and cookies to *truly* special occasions.

3. Embrace fats. Overcome your 1980s fat phobia by incorporating plenty of nuts, seeds, avocado, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut) and plant-based oils (olive, coconut, avocado, sunflower). Fat helps regulate hormones and adds flavor so you’re more likely to be satisfied on less. Plus, fat does not cause the infamous blood sugar spike that leads to fat storage.

4. Give up grains (for 2 weeks). Some people can handle gluten just fine. Others are sensitive to gluten in serious or subtle ways (like sluggish energy and acne) and it’s only when you remove the offender that you realize your potential without it. Trouble is, even if we go “gluten free” many of us are still stuck on bread, bagels, cereal, and crackers that contain other refined grains (like potato and corn starch) and added sugars. Eating these carb concoctions leaves little room in our diets to explore more nutritious alternatives. Replace grains in creative ways– order an extra serving of veggies instead of the bread or starchy side, serve your morning eggs with a side of fruit instead of toast. You’ll be amazed at how much more colorful and antioxidant packed your diet becomes. Side effects may include: higher energy and accidental weight loss. At the end of the 2 weeks you may not miss the grains at all. But if you do, incorporate them in slowly and see how you feel.

5. Eat more fiber. Fiber-rich foods are nutrient-dense and calorie-poor. Think: veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains like quinoa, oats, and brown rice. Fiber fill us up, helps lower cholesterol, and feeds the healthy bacteria in our digestive systems. Studies on populations that consume lots of fiber (like many Africa nations) show that they have lower rates of colon cancer, diabetes and obesity. Compare that to the typical grease and carb-filled diets of many Americans and it’s clear there’s room for improvement!

Jessica is a NYC-based nutritionist and registered dietitian. She has a private nutritional counseling practice, where she helps real people lose real weight (no fancy detoxes here) and live better. She is also the Director of Nutrition for Joy Bauer at Nourish Snacks. Some fun facts about Jessica: She’s a science nerd and chocolate addict who loathes exercise but loves to be active. For more healthy tips and recipes, check out Jessica’s site.