Spring is officially here, which means losing an hour of sleep, welcoming warm weather, and total house cleaning. While you’re spring cleaning the rest of your home, don’t forget to clean out the kitchen! Get rid of the cookies, chips, candy, chocolates, cake mixes, sugary foods and drinks to mention a few from your pantry. Clean out the refrigerator and the freezer with all the ice cream and other sweets. It is time to replace these calorie dense foods with some healthy alternatives. One of the simplest and best means to get healthy is by having nutritious foods available, so follow my spring health tips to get back on the healthy track!
1. Load Up with Springy Foods
Fresh produce is always the way to go, and thankfully warmer months mean more to choose from. There are plenty of healthy foods that earn a spot in your kitchen all year round, but I recommend taking advantage of seasonal bites. Now that things are beginning to warm up, there are a ton of lighter spring choices. My favorite spring fruits are all of the delicious berries. Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries are full of antioxidants. Carrots, cucumbers, asparagus, and beets are other favorites because fresh vegetables are extra delectable. Yes, you can get these fruits and vegetables all year round, but there is nothing like fresh locally grown produce. Support your local farmers by shopping at the local farmers market and choosing locally grown produce at the grocery stores.
2. Eat Lean Meats
Eating some red meat is ok, but overeating can hurt your diet. Spring is the perfect time to start cutting back on your red meat intake by purchasing fresh chicken and fish! Red meat is full of saturated fat that can cause health concerns. Opting for fish and chicken can improve your health and are full of nutrients. Salmon, Halibut and Cod are rich in omega-3-fatty acids. Your local grocery store may have some good recipes to follow to cook these heart healthy alternative to red meats.
3. Get Creative
Sometimes we eat unhealthy meals because they are easy to make and eating healthy can get boring if you let it. However, try getting creative with your diet this spring! If you are a fan of spaghetti, make noodles with squash to fill up on vegetables instead of carbs. Or if you love meaty tacos, opt for turkey or tuna instead of beef. There are so many recipes that can help you enjoy your favorite meals while staying healthy. You don’t have to eat a big dinner every night. Once or twice a week opt for a light meal with vegetable juices, yogurt and zucchini noodles. Instead of eating ice-cream for dessert, why not try a fresh fruit sorbet.
4. Time to Get Moving
Other than spring cleaning your kitchen, the warmer weather should be your motivation to get moving. If you do not have an exercise routine in place, spring is the time to make one. With warm weather on the horizon, walking daily for 30 minutes should be sufficient to recondition your body if you have not been working out over the winter. During the weekend, go on a long hike. Join a local hiking club or even try to go on some organized hikes such as those planned by the Sierra club. Exercising offers many health benefits, but will also help you feel better about yourself. Additionally, working out can help you stay on track with your diet and most importantly, it will help you sleep better. Remember, the less you sleep, greater the risk for gaining weight.
Eating healthy and exercising can be difficult, but spring is the best time to get a healthy start. Fresh spring foods can help you get started for a healthy lifestyle! Spring is the perfect time to eat locally grown foods and get creative. Don’t forget to enjoy the warm spring weather outside!
Mitra Rangarajan is one of the few people in the world who is cross-trained and certified in three interrelated, interconnected and intertwined disciplines which are: Nutrition, Diabetes Management, and Clinical Medicine/GI. Read more of Mitra’s GI Nutrition articles here!