Mid-year is the perfect time to reboot your nutriment and eat a little cleaner and greener. And we have just the plan to motivate you and make getting a fresh start easy
Maybe you want to brighten your mood or feel less fatigued. Or you’re looking to lighten up your diet. Whatever your goal, we’ve got a simple solution.
“A one-week reboot plan filled with delicious, healthy foods is just what you need to get motivated to eat well long-term,” says dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Superfood Swap. This means eliminating any foods that weigh you down, and loading up on those that benefit your body and brain.
“Trading in refined sugars and flours, and other processed stuff you may be occasionally sneaking in, for whole foods that are nutrientdense and full of flavour will make you immediately feel healthier,” says Dawn.
That’s because simple carbs, plentiful in the foods you’ll be cutting out, are associated with fatigue, reports research in the Nevada Journal of Public Health.
Your mood will get a boost too. Eating more fruits and vegetables makes you happier and more confident, research shows. These foods have nutrients that keep neurotransmitters functioning optimally, says study author Tamlin Conner.
And because you see the benefits of a jump-start right away, it will help to cement good habits, say Willow Jarosh and Stephanie Clarke of C&J Nutrition.
THE GROUND RULES
Begin your jump-start week by ditching the foods that make you hungry and tired.
That means processed carbohydrate – even wholegrain breads, pastas and crackers. Doing this will keep your blood sugar fluctuations minimal so you don’t get hungry and give up, Stephanie and Willow say.
Also, steer clear of all forms of added sugar, including maple syrup, honey and agave.
We know, but stay strong – it’s worth it: One study found that when people cut their added sugar from 28 per cent of calories to 10 per cent, their blood pressure, cholesterol, weight and blood sugar levels improved in as little as nine days.
And last, memorise this mantra: Table. Plate.
Chair. Instead of scarfing lunch from a takeout container at your desk, or dinner on the couch in front of the TV, sit in a chair at the table, eat your food from a real plate, and chew slowly and relish each bite. Do this for a week and you’ll find yourself enjoying meals more and naturally eating less when you savour the flavour and experience, Dawn says.
That new awareness can also help control your cravings: In a study, people who received instructions on how to eat mindfully ate fewer sweets than those who didn’t, for up to a full year. Plus, they were less likely to regain any weight they lost during the study.
WHAT TO PUT ON YOUR MENU
Now comes the good part: all the food you get to enjoy. You can still have your favourites, Dawn says – just eat healthier versions of them. For example, instead of tacos, make a salad of lentils cooked with taco seasonings, vegetables and guacamole.
In general, fill your plate with food that’s full of flavour, texture and colour, Stephanie and Willow say. Here’s what to stock up on.
The full rainbow Aim for three cups or more of vegetables a day, and eat at least one type at every meal, including breakfast, Dawn says. Add sliced tomatoes to your avocado toast, throw some shredded greens in your eggs, or make a green smoothie.
And while all vegetables are good for you, cruciferous ones (broccoli, cauliflower, kale) and dark, leafy greens (arugula, mustard greens, watercress) are especially powerful because they help keep your cells healthy, say Stephanie and Willow.
Clean protein Eat more plant protein during your jumpstart, since this type of food has impactful health benefits. Legumes are high in filling fibre; tofu is rich in calcium. When you do go for animal protein, opt for grass-fed beef, pastured pork and organic chicken, which may be leaner and healthier.
Real grains Consume three to five servings of 100 per cent wholegrains like brown rice, oats, millet and quinoa each day.
Because they have no additives, wholegrains are super-nutritious. They’re also chewy and full of water, so they keep you satisfied, research shows.
Loads of spices They deliver concentrated doses of antioxidants and add great flavour for zero calories. Plus, cinnamon and ginger bring out the natural sweetness in foods like fruit, plain yogurt and even roasted vegetables, say Stephanie and Willow.
A few fruits Have one to two pieces or cups of fruit a day, focusing on berries, citrus and apples. Berries are especially high in antioxidants, and citrus is packed with flavonoids that keep your liver healthy, Stephanie and Willow say. Apples have a type of fibre that nourishes the healthy bacteria in your gut, which help regulate everything from your digestion to your mood.
Nuts and seeds Packed with healthy fats, they help you feel fuller longer, and their crunchiness makes you eat more slowly. In addition to walnuts and almonds, try dried watermelon seeds, which are full of energyboosting iron, as a salad topping. Add waterabsorbing chia seeds to oats and smoothies to stay hydrated and satisfied.
Something fermented Sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented vegetables add kick to your meals and deliver probiotics to keep your gut bugs in balance. Add a spoonful to sandwiches, eggs or salad.