Spring Cleaning- A Guide to Refreshing Your Diet
Spring cleaning is here! Spring is the perfect time to not only ditch the dust bunny-ridden clothes sitting in the back of your closet, but also cleanse your body for the inevitably approaching summer season. Though it may sound daunting to think about getting into your tiniest bikini in the next few months, if you start the spring season off right with a few goals and guidelines in mind, that bikini will soon be your new BFF.
Whether you’re still sluggish from a weekend of bad eating or feeling the guilt of a stressed-induced binge session, don’t throw in the towel too soon … spring is the perfect time to awake from hibernation and shed that winter weight.
Spring is all about lightness; light-colored pastels, light fabrics of cotton and linen, and feeling light fits this season’s trend too. Regularly eating breakfast has so many health benefits to keeping you light, and is key to any successful weight loss or healthy eating plan. Make eating a healthy breakfast a priority to reap these benefits all season long:
• Reduces hunger throughout the day, no mid-morning crash
• Helps you make healthier food choices at other meals of the day
• Makes you feel more energized and less tired throughout the day
• Decreases risk of obesity and chronic diseases, and improves blood sugar levels
• Kick-starts your metabolism early to keep it working efficiently throughout the day, burning maximum calories
• Improves concentration and performance in classroom/workroom
• Provides strength and endurance for longer physical activity/exercise
• Lowers cholesterol levels
• Boosts short-term memory
Need I say more?
So use this guide to show that post-holiday conscience whose boss, as you make some breakfast choices that surely won’t weight you down this season.
Tips to Avoid Tipping the Scale:
1. Always use a non-stick spray in place of butter or oil when cooking to save up to 100 calories and 10 g fat!
2. Use egg whites in place of whole eggs to avoid unnecessary calories and cholesterol for only 15 calories and zero g fat per white. If you’re not too keen on egg whites, ease into them using a 2:1 or 1:2 whole egg to egg white ratio in your next scramble.
3. Use spices, both sweet and savory, for flavor instead of buttery and sugary toppings (use a dash of salt, pepper, and paprika for eggs & cinnamon and nutmeg for pancake/French toast recipes).
4. For any boxed breakfast, look at the nutrition label and if one of the first 3 ingredients is sugar (or a form of sugar), toss it to the side.
5. Load up on fiber by adding ingredients like chopped nuts and fruit to pancakes, granola to yogurt, and veggies to omelets to fill you up without high amounts of calories, fats, or processed sugars.
6. Keep it low fat/nonfat when using any dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt) or grains (cereals, granolas, bars). Kashi is always a good go-to brand for cereals, grains, and breakfast bars (Honey Almond Flax is my favorite kind).
7. Use natural sugars from fresh fruit or Truvia/Stevia for sweetness in your recipes and drinks like coffee and smoothies.
8. Stay whole. Choose whole grain cereals and oats & and whole wheat breads like English muffins, toast, and bagels. Try using whole wheat sandwich thins or bagel thins (I like Thomas or Arnold brands) for any toast/French toast/breakfast sandwich recipe that will cost you a mere 50 calories per slice!
Though you may think your saving calories by skipping breakfast, doing so will only lead you to consuming these missed calories later in the day that won’t be used or burned as efficiently. Skipping breakfast will only hinder your agenda to getting in shape, so enjoy a healthy and delicious start to your day to stay on track to getting beach-ready. Follow these tips and guidelines to make every breakfast a breakfast of champions.
Go get ‘em Tiger!
Now for a few simple recipes to fuel your mornings and help with Spring Cleaning your diet …
Easy Egg White Omelet: If you’re an eggspert, omelets are sure to be on your list for all brunching and breakfast occasions. Egg whites are an easy, calorie-crushing alternative to whole eggs with only 15 calories per white … so don’t hesitate to make your omelet as big as you want! If you’re not too keen on egg whites, try easing into them using a 2:1 or 1:2 whole egg to egg white ratio for your next omelet… even slight modifications can cut down on the calories and cholesterol of regular omelets.
Try loading it with veggies to keep the calorie count down while still being delicious and hearty. A little cheese goes a long way, so add a pinch along with any spices. I always go for a little salt and pepper, and a dash of paprika for a bit smokiness to complement the veggies.
Breakfast Sandwich: Breakfast sandwiches are always a crowd pleaser and with these easy substitutions, you won’t have anyone complaining about this healthier version. Cook egg whites or whole eggs (or a mix of the two) the way you prefer, add some reduced-fat cheese and any spices you like, and place it over a toasted whole wheat English muffin.
For some added protein, bake 2 slices of turkey (or soy) bacon, place it inside the sandwich, and enjoy!
Sometimes I add some raw spinach, onion, and tomato slices, or a spoonful of salsa to give it a little kick. This easy fix will save you a heap of calories and fat without substituting any flavor, for no more than 300 calories using any of these variations!
Yogurt Parfait: Yogurt provide so many benefits including probiotics to aid digestion, protein to keep you feeling satisfied, lowering blood pressure capabilities, calcium, and vitamin D. Be careful of the absurd amount of sugars some yogurts contain like the “fruit on the bottom” kind that may have a low calorie or fat content, but is loaded with unhealthy amounts of sugar… just add your own fresh fruit to a healthier plain yogurt if that’s the kind you prefer.
Make your own yogurt parfait by alternating yogurt, low fat or nonfat granola (watch out for the added sugars of your brand of granola too), and your favorite fruit for a quick, light, and fresh start to your morning. The fiber and protein in this breakfast will keep you satisfied all morning long and help you stay on track to choosing a healthy lunch later in the day.
Banana Nut Pancakes: Load any regular, whole-wheat, or half and half pancake mix with sliced bananas (or any fruit), cinnamon or nutmeg, vanilla extract, and chopped pecans or walnuts (or your favorite type of nut). The added healthy ingredients will cut down on room for starchy calories from the pancake mix, replacing those with healthier calories and fat. The fruit and nuts also provide fiber, protein, vitamin E, and antioxidants for a heartier alternative to fill you up faster, and consequently consume fewer cakes.
Breakfast On-the-Go: If you are usually rushing out the door most mornings, any fresh whole fruit provides vitamins, minerals, and fiber, with low calories and fat for a perfect on-the-go breakfast.
Granola or breakfast bars from brands like Kashi (Honey Almond Flax is my favorite) and Luna are also great alternatives … but don’t be deceived by the claims many breakfast and protein bars make. Make sure to look at the nutrition facts prior to purchase for amounts of protein, sugar, and even calories that are just way too high for a simple breakfast. Unless you’d like them to replace your lunch too (I know I don’t)… choose those with simple ingredients that are composed mostly of grains, nuts, and fruit, not chocolate and peanut butter.