Spring Clean Your Diet: A 7 Day Challenge

Post by Olivia Martino, Registered Dietitian and Owner, Nourish Northwest

I have been dreading and procrastinating  doing spring cleaning in my house.  The task just feels overwhelming and the last way I want to spend a full weekend day, especially with our random bursts of sunshine lately.  But as the sun shone in through my windows today and the dust and grime in my house became ever more apparent I realized I needed to get serious about this.  I sat down, made a list and decided to just break it down and do a little bit each day this week.  All of a sudden this task didn’t seem quite so daunting.  

I thought about how this strategy could also be applied to diet and lifestyle changes.  At this time of year cleanses and detoxes are popular and I typically do one myself.  They usually involve a complete overhaul of the diet, which of course requires a ton of work.  This also felt too overwhelming to me right now.  What if I applied the same strategical model to cleaning out the diet as I did for cleaning out my house?  Just one small task per day feels so much more approachable.  So I’m going give this a try and spend the week making one small change per day.  Will you join me?

The idea is to continue with each behavior every day, leading up to a full week and building on. For example, the change you make on Day 1 is not only for day 1 but for every day of the week that follows. Of course you can make your own plan but here is what I will be doing, based off of some of the elements of my Spring Cleanse that I think are most important.

Day 1: Eliminate All Added Sugars 

This is first because I believe this to be the most important dietary change most of us can make.  While I never like to categorize foods as good or bad, sugar is one that really doesn’t have any redeeming nutritional qualities.  In fact, in order for our bodies to process sugar our some of our nutrient stores are actually tapped into.  Too much sugar int the diet is the cause of so many major chronic health conditions, such as obesity, heart disease and any inflammatory disease.  On the daily basis, it also is responsible for energy and mood swings and difficulty sleeping.  Sugar is added to so many foods throughout processing.  I have found it in my organic vegetable broth, New Seasons rotisserie chicken and almond milk.  Even when we think we are making healthy choices, we may be consuming unnecessary sugar, making it that much more difficult to break the cycle.  If you are consuming foods from a package make sure to read all the labels.  If any sugar is added, get that food out of there for the week.  You will be surprised at how difficult this can be but how much it can reduce your sugar cravings and boost your energy.  To clarify, I am not talking about fruit and or any other naturally occurring sugars. 

Day 2: Eliminate Alcohol

Next to sugar, alcohol is probably the hardest thing on your liver that you could consume.  Your liver does a pretty good job of getting it out of your system, but take a week to give your body a break!  It’s not always easy in our craft beer society but it’s just a week.  You got this!

Day 3: Add at least 1 green food to your diet

This is one that I really believe should be a part of every day life.  Hopefully this is a habit that can stick with you after this week.  Green foods have chlorophyll, which is very beneficial to the liver.  Any green, any way will work: spinach, celery, broccoli, even fresh herbs like parsley and mint. Try a green smoothie, sauteed greens, raw salads or soups!  Here are a few of my favorite green recipes:

Three Green Smoothies

Arugula Pesto

Nettle Recipes

Stuffed Chard Rolls

Minted Pea Soup

Day 4: Commit to at least 45 minutes of physical activity daily

This may not be a dietary change but physical activity is equally important to nutrition.  Find an activity you enjoy, whether it be walking, hiking, doing yoga, crossfit or dancing.  Better yet, mix it up each day and make sure some of this activity makes you sweat! Sweating is one the the body’s detox mechanisms.

Here’s a HIIT workout designed by trainer, Lily, that you can do at home!

Day 5: Practice Mindful Eating

If you want to read more about this topic, click here.  In a nutshell, make sure every time you eat, you do so with intention.  Free yourself from distractions, such as your phone and computer and focus solely on your food.  Eat slowly.  You will most likely notice an increased sense of satisfaction; flavors you may have never tasted or a feeling of fullness with smaller portions.

Day 6: Eliminate all processed foods

This is a hard one but you’re almost at the end of the week.  If the food you are eating has been processed in a way in which some essential part of it has been removed or unnatural things have been added to it, get it out of there for these last two days.  This may mean preparing all of your own food. Get creative and fill up on lots of vegetables and whole, natural protein sources.  Notice how good food can taste on it’s own. 

Day 7: Make yourself one major liver supportive meal

Foods that are especially high in liver supportive nutrients are onions and garlic, beets, cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage and green foods.  Essentially, just eat a lot of veggies, with a focus on the brassica.  Click on this link, for some ideas!

 

Day 8: Reflect on what you have done and how you feel

You have done a lot of hard work! How do you feel?  What about these changes were beneficial and which ones could you continue on doing?  This Spring Challenge does not have to end here.  Chose some healthy habits that you continue on with and implement them into your life.  They say it takes two weeks to form a habit and you are halfway there! Keep at it!

 

I’ll be starting this net Monday, May 1st! Follow along on Instagram and join me!

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