Spring is finally here, and you might have an additional energy boost to spring clean your diet. If those summer shorts feel a bit snug, here are a few small changes you can make to feel light and energized.

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Cut out Processed Carbs from ONE (or more) Meals

Processed carbs like bread, pasta, pretzels, crackers, cereal, and chips, (the list goes on) are foods that are easy to overeat, yet don’t offer much of a nutritional punch. Remove those foods from one (or more) meals, each day. As an example, swap out refined grains like Special K cereal and toast for two hardboiled eggs and a bowl of fruit for breakfast. At dinner, double up on the vegetables and leave off the white rice or pasta. Instead of pretzels for a salty snack, substitute edamame for a similar, yet satisfying and healthier snack. Keep your goal reasonable by addressing only one meal at a time, unless you feel you can tackle more than this.

Be Aware of and RE-WRITE your “Eating Scripts”

In Brian Wainsink’s book, Mindless Eating, the food psychologist describes repetitive and unconscious eating patterns as “eating scripts.” An example of an eating script might be the bowl of ice cream you always serve yourself after dinner while you wind down watching TV. Another common script is raiding the pantry as soon as you get home from work while prepping dinner.

What are your “eating scripts?” How can you re-write that script to help you eat less or eat better and bring more mindfulness to eating? Re-writing the above mentioned scripts would look like this:

  1. Enlist your spouse for an after dinner walk 2-3 nights a week instead of sitting down to the TV. (notice I didn’t say every night…start small)
  2. Pack a satisfying snack to eat on the way home from work. It will take the edge off of your hunger and stop that post work pantry raid.

Get Greener Like the Grass

Dieting is often associated with “removing” foods from our diet, but lets change that mindset and “add-in” something healthy. Coloring your plate with a bit of green at every meal ensures not only a plate-full of nutritious additions, but can also facilitate weight loss. Packed with water and fiber, green vegetables are low in calories. As an example, 1 cup of sliced zucchini = 25 calories compared to 200 calories = 1 cup of pasta. Here are several simple meal ideas to add in green!

Breakfast: Add spinach or arugula to eggs; add a handful of spinach to a fruit smoothie Snacks: Substitute Kale Chips for potato chips; dip raw sugar snap peas into hummus
Lunch: Toss sliced cucumbers in a 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 tsp. of honey for a simple salad side dish
Dinner: Add finely chopped kale or Swiss chard to tomato sauce; vary up your typical dinner salad with a spinach salad.

While these small changes won’t result in rapid weight loss, I guarantee, you won’t feel deprived. Sustainable steps = long term weight loss success.

Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a Registered Dietitian, Media Spokesperson, and co-author of Prevention's Mediterranean Table Cookbook. She and her team of Registered Dietitians aim to help their clients go further, make change last, and unlock their potential. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband, and three young sons. If you are interested in working with Jennifer, please visit our contact page.