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7 Ways to Clean Your Diet (and Your Pantry) for Spring

Well, I'm going to admit it—I've officially got the spring-fever bug. Do you? This doesn't mean I've done any actual spring-cleaning of my house or anything like that (yet!), but I have been thinking about it. (That counts, right?) And it makes sense to start with the kitchen—and one's eating habits—first, don't you think?

Sharon Richter, R.D., thinks so too. She says that it's important to clean out your pantry at least once a year: "Its also great time to assess your eating habits and freshen up some of your go-to staples in the snack and nonperishable categories," she says. And she has some good ideas for jump-starting the whole process:

1: "Empty everything from your kitchen cabinets. It’s OK to start with a mess and you’ll be surprised what’s hiding in there!" she says.

2: "Throw away anything that has expired, has been open for more than a couple weeks, or you know you’re just not going to use."

3: "Organize everything by category: snacks, meal starters, nuts and dried fruits, cereal and carbs, and so on," she says.

4: Then take a look at labels. "Here are a couple of ingredients you simply shouldn’t have in any foods: hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), monosodium glutamate (MSG)," she says.

5: "Make sure you have plenty of portion-controlled snacks readily available and at the front of the pantry. You tend to eat more of what is eye-level or easily accessible," Richter says. "I always stock up on Balance Bar Dark Bars. They're a good snack in the afternoon when your energy tends to drop."

6: "We all have had those insanely busy days when there is no time to eat," she says. "Instead of reaching for something quick but non-nutritious, have a stash of protein-rich foods so you don't end up at the drive-through or vending machine. Nuts, beef jerky...these items are good for traveling and can be portion controlled."

7: Have lots of water around. "We often confuse hunger with thirst, so before you reach for a snack, drink eight ounces of water," she says. "This will give you the extra time to determine if you’re really hungry—and will also help you make a better decision on what you ultimately eat. You’re much more likely to make a healthy choice!"

When spring rolls around, how do you change your eating habits?

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