Spring clean

Spring cleaning
Former Olympic swimmer and registered holistic nutritionist Joanne Malar shares her 8 best tips for boosting energy and getting your body in peak condition this season with FLARE’s Raquel Lowe

1. Make a clean start
Before you clean up your eating act, set the stage for better eating. Clean out your cupboards, freezer and fridge, getting rid of any unhealthy food items you have around the house. Having ‘junk’ in the house will only tempt you away from making better healthier food choices.

2. Get back to basics
Eat whole foods. Hunger is best satisfied with smaller portions of nutrient dense, natural, ‘live’ food. Avoid the empty calories of processed, packaged foods
Go for whole grain breads, pasta and cereals. Feed your body with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds. 

3. Try some new alternatives
Get to know your whole grains. Kamut, spelt, quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, amaranth, soy, millet. Variety in your grains is just as important as variety in your fruit and vegetables.
There are great alternatives to wheat products such as spelt breads, and kamut flatbreads which are great for wraps. If these items are not in your grocery store ask for them! But in the meantime seek out health food stores.
Nut butters are your friends. Instead of relying on the old standby, peanut butter, sample some other nut butters such as almond, cashew, hazelnut, macadamia, pistachio, pumpkin seed, brazil nut, and soy nut butters. Or start small by purchasing ‘sugar free’ peanut butter. Most of the commercial peanut butters are chock full of sugar…more on that later.

4. You are what and how you eat
Begin listening to your body.  Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied. Eat slowly.  With our busy schedules people usually wait until they are famished, then they wolf down what they can to immediately solve the problem of hunger. It takes approximately 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that you are ‘full’. Most people eat their whole meal in under 10 minutes, so they don’t realize they’ve eaten too much until the discomfort sets in, well after the fork goes down.

5. Get Wet
Drink more water. Often, people overeat because they are dehydrated. Before your meals, have a glass of water. This will give you a more accurate gauge of your hunger levels. If you are fatigued, getting headaches, or are feeling light-headed, you could very well need to drink more water.

6. Consume less…
Sugar: Over the past 100 years, we North Americans have gone from consuming an average of 5lbs of sugar a year… to 2-3 lbs of sugar a week!  Why is that bad? Digesting sugar robs our bodies of vitamins and minerals, making our bodies work extra hard. Although you may feel an initial energy boost, the actual resulting effect of the sugar is exhausting to the system. Digesting it increases our blood glucose levels and production of insulin to maintain proper levels, which promotes the storage of fat. The consumption of sugar also speeds up aging and takes a toll on your immune system, which can lead to disease.

Maintaining a consistent blood sugar level is much better than the rollercoaster sugar highs and lows many of us ride.
Try to avoid sugary foods, including most processed food. It’s not just candy you need to watch for: breads, breakfast cereal, mayonnaise, peanut butter, ketchup, spaghetti sauces, and microwave meals are all full of it!

Caffeine: We know it’s hard to give up the kick, but caffeine dehydrates you and robs your body of essential vitamins (including calcium). The first few weeks without your morning Joe may be difficult, but soon you’ll find that natural sources of energy – such as exercise, healthy eating and proper sleep – will leave you with all the pep you need.

7. Shake it up
Often, the grind of cooking comes from lack of imagination. Crack open those cookbooks collecting dust on the shelf, take a look at the newspaper’s daily recipe or search for recipes online.  Before you go grocery shopping, take the time to plan some choice new dishes that will make the week of nourishment really take your taste buds for a ride.
Need a ‘shake it up’ jump start? Start small. Try buying at least one different fruit a week. 

8. Feed your body and mind
Walk more. It’s not about counting the calories. Walking cleanses your body and clears your mind. Simply by moving, you are flushing toxins from your body, reducing stress hormones, and giving your body exercise. Get out of your chair at lunchtime instead of working through lunch. Grab a coworker, and get outside!

And don’t just feed your body. Try a yoga class, pottery, painting, mediation, photography… whatever you enjoy. Resolutions aren’t just for New Years. Set new spring goals. Go over your previous goals and evaluate them. Think about where you are, and where you want to go. Write down your goals and celebrate the small successes! 
For more about holistic nutrition, visit Joanne’s website