With warmer weather and a new crop of produce hitting markets, spring is a great time to clean up your diet. Ditch the heavy foods like red meats, starches and sugary snacks and “spring” for a lighter fare including seasonal fruits and veggies, lean proteins and lots of water. Today we’re offering tips on how to spring clean your diet.
Seasonal Fruits and Veggies
A balanced diet should focus on a variety of fruits and vegetables. Did you know you’ll get the most nutrition out of produce when they are seasonally ripe? Better yet, they’ll be freshest and bursting with the best nutrients when you buy fresh and local because they won’t have to be packaged and maintained for long distance travel. Spring fruits include strawberries, pineapple, honeydew melon, cherries, oranges and apricots. Spring vegetables include artichokes, asparagus, fennel, peas, radishes and green beans. Incorporate these new flavors of the season into your diet and try to consume them as raw as possible to preserve their maximum nutritional value. As always, bright colors usually make the healthiest foods so play up the colors of spring and eat the rainbow.
Lighten your Protein
Lean proteins are healthiest year round and spring is a great time to lighten up on your protein. We don’t mean eat less protein; we mean go leaner with meats like chicken, turkey and fish or try meat alternatives such as nuts and beans. Many people look to heavy, dark meats for warmth and sustenance during cold, winter months. As the weather warms, our meals can cool down a bit and get lighter too. In addition to having less fat and calories, lean proteins offer some terrific additional perks like the essential fatty acids found in many types of fish and nuts, and iron found in beans.
Hydrate with Nature
Perhaps nature’s way of subtly encouraging us to hydrate is through spring showers. Much like the budding leaves and flowers need a good amount of water this season, so do you! Cut out the sugary sodas and work on purifying your body by increasing your water intake. Most people need eight to nine 8 oz. servings of water a day, and more if you sweat a lot or exercise intensely. Because a huge percentage of our bodies is water, replacing what’s lost through normal channels is vital. Beyond quenching your thirst, water keeps cellular function strong, aids digestion, supports blood flow and increases energy. Try natural herbal teas as an additional way to consume enough water every day.
Clean out your Kitchen
As you’re working your way through your house with various spring cleaning tasks, do the same with the food in your kitchen. Toss sugary snacks, anything with trans fat and other hard-to-resist foods that offer little nutritional value. If it’s not on hand, can’t reach for it when you’re having a snack attack. Stock your kitchen with healthy foods, especially those you can grab on-the-go. These include single servings of yogurt (but avoid those with highly sugary fruit on the bottom), nuts, whole fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal and plain microwave popcorn. Set yourself up for success by spring cleaning your pantry and fridge too.
Try New Recipes
Spring is a great time to research new recipes. Go online or ask friends for suggestions. Then spend a few days trying a bunch of new things. Involve your family in the process by asking them to help you cook and being your taste testers. It can be a fun family activity and you may discover a few new meals that will become a staple in your family’s spring diet.