These dietitian-approved tips will spring clean your diet, boost your energy and help you shed that pesky winter weight…

It’s the season for clearing out the old, shrugging off the sluggishness of winter and tuning into the energy of spring.

It’s tempting to go-all-in with an extreme detox and workout plan, but Retha Harmse, registered dietitian and The Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) spokesperson, cautions against getting caught up in making lifestyle changes that are too sweeping.

“Trying to make too many changes, or really big changes overnight doesn’t always stick,” she says.

“A great approach to the new season is to just aim to be a better person than you were the day before.  When you begin with small steps, it is far easier for the changes you make to improve your health and wellbeing to be sustainable.”

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Here are five practical and simple ways to spring clean your diet…

1. Eat for the season

Focusing on the in-season fruit and vegetables is an easy way to usher in small daily changes that can make a big difference.

Swopping out soups and stews for fresh and delicious salads and plant-based bowls helps you to increase both the amount and variety of fruit and veg you eat.

Jade Seeliger, also a registered dietitian and ADSA spokesperson, points out that spring produce can have a restorative effect on the body.

“After a long, cold winter, our immune systems take a knock and many of us turn to antibiotics to help us recover.  Antibiotics wipe out both the bad and good microbiota living in our gut.  Certain fruits and vegetables are known as prebiotics provide food for your gut bacteria and help them to flourish once more.  Prebiotic-containing fruit and vegetables in season in spring include artichokes, apples and asparagus.”

Keep your attention also on the versatile cruciferous veg such as broccoli and cauliflower; and stock up on the spring avocados, tomatoes and berries.

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2. Try mindful eating

Less than healthy eating is often rooted in being on auto-pilot. Spring invites us to shake up our habits, and there’s no better way to do this than by exercising our mindfulness.

“Mindful eating is an ancient, mindfulness-based practice with profound implications and applications for resolving problematic eating behaviours and troubled relationships with food,” says Harmse. “It also fosters the development of self-care practices that support optimal health.

Here are five ideas to get you started with mindful eating:

  • Start with a favourite: Choose a favourite food or a dish you really enjoy and have eaten often.
  • Sense it: Observe the look, touch, texture, and smell. Appreciate the appearance and scent of your food and begin to perceive any sensations happening in your body, particularly stomach and mouth.
  • Observe before you chew: Once you take a bite, observe the sensation of food in your mouth without chewing. Carefully think about the taste of the food.
  • Go slow and think: Chew slowly and pause briefly. Think about the location of the food in your mouth, as well as the taste and texture. Concentrate on how the taste and texture change as you continue chewing.
  • Pause: Before you swallow, pay attention to the urge to swallow. Do so consciously and notice the sensation of the food travelling down the oesophagus to the stomach. Pay attention to any physical sensation.”

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