It’s funny how the seasons affect your diet. I’m a classic seasonal eater - in winter I’m all about carbs and comfort food, but now the weather is warming up I’m suddenly motivated to try and make healthier versions of those foods. This weekend I cleared my Saturday and made a date to detox my pantry, but not before chatting to A Season of Change’s resident nutritionist, Dane Fuller for a bit of added motivation.
Here I’ve put together some of Dane’s top tips (plus a few of my favourite tricks) to help transform the way you eat – just in time for swimsuit season.
1. DETOX YOUR PANTRY - BIN, DONATE, STORE
Why not apply the ol’ wardrobe detox system to your pantry? I try to do this every three months. Bin anything that is out of date or looks a bit funky. Give away any unhealthy or processed foods (waste not, want not!) and keep anything that fits into your new healthy eating plan. Don’t tell Max but I just turfed his last three parties’ worth of lolly bags.
2. HIDE ANYTHING NAUGHTY
Out of sight truly is out of mind. If you must keep a few treats in your pantry then put them on a high shelf, behind something. “Place healthy snack foods like fruit, nuts and little packets of dried seaweed snacks in visible spots in your fridge and cupboard,” says Dane. I’m obsessed with red capsicum at the moment and on Sundays I chop it up with carrots and store it in a plastic container in the fridge. Next time I’m procrastinating on an article, I’ll reach for those with some hummus instead of corn chips.
3. GET MORE MILEAGE OUT OF FRESH FRUIT AND VEG
This is such an awesome tip my trainer Ricardo Riskalla taught me - the best way to lengthen the shelf-life of your veggies (preserving vital nutrients and maximising flavour) is to wash and store them properly. As soon as I get them home from the supermarket, I fill my kitchen sink with cool water and half a cup of white vinegar (just by a big 2 liter bottle of home brand vinegar for this purpose). I soak any fruit and veg that I’m not going to peel for ten minutes. This helps to kill bacteria and remove any pesticides. Then, I rinse well and fold them in damp tea towels to store in the crisper –it keeps them so much fresher than storing them in plastic. I swear they last twice as long and are way crispier when you use them!
4. FREEZE YOUR WAY TO FIT
I’m the first one to reach for the Thai menu when I’m too tired to cook, but lately I’ve been trying to get ahead with my cooking on weekends and store a stash of healthy meals in your freezer, so all we have to do is reheat them. “You’ll save yourself money and kilojoules in the process. Casseroles, curries and soups all freeze beautifully,” says Dane. My fridge is now chockers but I do need to get better at labeling. Often I don’t know what we’re eating until after I take it out of the microwave!
5. STOCK YOUR PANTRY LIKE A PT
In addition to having homemade healthy meals on hand, make sure you also have a decent supply of frozen or preserved fruit, vegetables and proteins available as quick meal ingredients. “Sundried tomatoes, capsicums in brine, canned corn kernels, canned beans and legumes, frozen vegetables, tins of tuna, poached, diced and frozen chicken breast and frozen fish fillets are great staples to have at the ready,” says Dane. “With these and a few fresh ingredients, you can easily whip up a salad or add to a soup or stir-fry.”
6. SWITCH TO SPARKLING (WATER, NOT WINE)
So many calories are wasted on beverages with next to no nutritional value and beer, wine, juice and fizzy drinks are the number one culprits. “To dramatically cut your calorie intake, try having only zero calorie fluids readily available,” says Dane who suggests keeping sparkling mineral water on hand with a twist of citrus for zing and flavour. I don’t really like fizzy water, weirdly, but I do drink kombucha instead of wine out of a wine glass when I’m trying to be good.
7. AVOID LOW FAT
Even though I know better, I often fall for the packaging and reach for the low fat option in a desperate attempt to be healthier, but Dane reminded me that this is a trap. “In many cases, these products are high in hidden sugars and, which aside from being unhealthy, are digested much faster, resulting in sugar crashes that leave you reaching for the next snack in no time,” he says. Instead, he suggests passing on ‘low-fat’ foods and eating with nutrition in mind. “Nutritious foods will be more satisfying and will keep you fuller for longer.” I’m glad someone is giving me permission to continue enjoying my full fat butter.
8. CLOCK YOUR COFFEES, TOO
It’s easy to get into the habit of thinking that coffee doesn’t count. And while there’s no shame in craving a little caffeine to kick-start your day, Dane explains that too often, we don’t think of our liquid calories when tallying up our daily food intake. “Remember that a latte is a cup of milk, so if you’re having two or three a day, those calories count just as much as the ones on your plate, especially if you’re trying to lose weight,” he says.
9. KEEP AN EYE ON PORTIONS
When we set about to eat better, even the healthiest options can lead us away from our goals when we over-indulge, says Dane. “Foods like nuts, hummus and protein smoothies are all great options, but just because they are healthy doesn’t discount the need for moderation. Focusing on nutritional value and portion size is the best way to keep healthy foods healthy – eating anything in excess is not going to have the desired benefits.”
To help you spring clean your life and develop healthy habits for good, A Season of Change registrations are now open. Look for specially marked Sculpt packs for your access code and visit www.aseasonofchange.me for more info and to sign up for free.
Story by Sigourney. In Association with A Season of Change.