In the winter months, many of us settle into a hibernation-like routine, full of carb-heavy comfort food and quiet nights in front of the fire. By the time spring rolls around, this can leave you feeling in a bit of a funk, and you might feel compelled to ‘spring clean’ – starting with your dietary habits.
Try out these practical steps to clean up your weekly eating.
Make water more interesting
For some serious calorie savings, you should remove sugary soft drinks from your daily routine. Of course, switching to water is easier said than done – unless you step up your water game!
Try adding a squeeze of citrus to your glass, along with some ice cubes – the subtle flavour makes a refreshing change! You can also try making fruit ice cubes to mix things up – just puree fresh fruit in a blender and freeze in ice cube trays.
Having a water-filtering jug in your fridge can also be handy here – removing the limescale from your tap water gives your drink a truly fresh taste.
One can of sparkling soft drink can have as many 140 calories, so making the change to water is a simple way to cut your calorie intake.
Switch half your carbs for veg
Vegetables have a fraction of the calories that bread, grains, pasta, and potatoes have, so upping your veg intake, whilst reducing your carb intake can be seriously beneficial for your waistline.
The next time you’re planning a meal, subtract half the starchy carbs and double the amount of veg. You’ll be able to cut a pretty impressive amount of calories without leaving yourself hungry!
Upping your veg intake will also increase the nutritional value of your meals, ensuring you get all the vitamins and minerals you need.
Opt for leaner cuts
Some meats are high in fat, especially saturated fat, so the meats you choose to eat can make a big difference to the amount of saturated fat – and calories – you’re consuming.
The next time you go shopping, have a look at the leaner options available. Instead of pork sausages, try chicken sausages. Pick the leaner ground beef or turkey mince. Instead of breaded fish, try a grilled fillet. Opt for skinless chicken and turkey cuts – you can even ask your butcher for the leanest cuts.
Making these choices can eliminate a lot of the fat in your meals without sacrificing the protein, which allows you to curb hunger and keep your muscle mass up whilst losing weight.
Swap sauces for herbs and spices
Did you know that marinades, dressings, sauces, and condiments can be a source of hidden calories? They’re often loaded with sugar and other calorie-heavy preservatives – so piling them onto your dinner can really up your calorie intake.
Herbs, spices, and seasonings are flavorful alternatives that taste delicious without adding unnecessary calories and sodium to a meal. So, next time you’re looking to marinade the chicken, try reaching for fresh basil, thyme or paprika instead!
Say no to flavoured yogurts
If you love yogurt, try to make plain Greek-style your go-to product, which has no sugar and tons of protein. To give it a tasty twist, top it with fresh fruit and crushed almonds or walnuts – you’ll have a nice balance of carbs, protein, and fat. You can even drop in a teaspoon of honey – it’s still better than the four teaspoons of sugar you’ll find in a lot of flavoured yogurts!
Ditch those energy bars
It’s easy to think a protein or energy bar is a healthy way to feed your snack craving, but they may not be as beneficial as you believe.
Many energy and granola bars are made up of heavily processed ingredients and added sugars, which can actually lead to an energy crash, and an increased appetite.
Instead, try to keep some whole produce snacks at hand – apples, oranges and bananas are an easy grab-and-go option. It’s also good to keep some protein options in, such as a handful of nuts, for a nutritionally complete snack.