4 ways to spring clean your food routine

How to hit refresh on your eating habits

At last, we’re coming out of hibernation and, as the weather warms up, there’s even a glimpse of summer in sight. As we ease out of winter into spring, we can take stock of where we are and refresh our routines.

Spring is traditionally a time of newness and refreshment, a time for cleaning house, making repairs, clearing out clutter and getting ready for a new season. With that spirit in mind, we asked one nutrition expert for her thoughts on how to spring clean your food routine.

“Spring is a time for rebirth,” says Dr. Uma Naidoo,​ MD, a nutritional psychiatrist and author of ​This Is Your Brain on Food. “A time for deep cleaning, for resetting, and, in my case as a nutritional psychiatrist, for including mental health boosting habits!”

Here are some of her top tips:

Clean out your kitchen

“Clean up your fridge and pantry by removing highly processed junk foods with added sugars,” says Naidoo. “It’s hard to say no to Doritos and Snickers if you have them at arm’s reach.”

Research has shown that such processed foods are highly addictive, Naidoo explains, adding that they are also detrimental to mood and overall mental health.

“Instead, fill up your fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables, and your pantry with nuts, seeds, lentils and legumes,” she says. These foods will give your body the nutrients and fibre it needs.

“Change out that cookie jar, and buy some antioxidant-rich, fibre-filled berries and eat with a probiotic-rich sheep’s milk plain yogurt! Toss the pretzels and make some kale crisps instead, rich in folate and iron, which are key nutrients for mental fitness.”

Get spicy

Naidoo suggests incorporating anti-inflammatory spices and herbs into your meals.

“Turmeric is highly anti-inflammatory and may improve anxiety, saffron has antidepressant benefits, rosemary improves memory and cognition, ginger helps with digestion, and green tea has shown to help the body prevent oxidative stress and promote natural detoxification.”

Pro tip: Naidoo says “always add a pinch of black pepper to turmeric. which enhances the absorption of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, twentyfold.”

Eat more leafy greens

“Focus on leafy greens to improve your body’s natural detoxification mechanisms,” Naidoo says. “Folate-rich foods such as kale, spinach, romaine, swiss chard, broccoli and other green vegetables are key to improving mental wellness, decreasing symptoms of depression and allowing your body to naturally detoxify. Try adding greens in all your meals: avocado toast with arugula or a spinach omelet for breakfast, a rainbow salad for lunch and some sautéed Swiss chard with wild salmon and sweet potato for dinner.”

Hydrate

“Make sure you keep hydrated! Buy that sustainable water bottle you’ve thought about and sip on lemon- or cucumber-flavoured water all day,” says Naidoo. “Dehydration is linked with higher symptoms of anxiety and is often mistaken as hunger.”

Pro tip: When you feel hunger pangs, Naidoo suggests drinking some water first to see if they go away – you may, in fact, just be thirsty.