Ah, spring is in the air! There’s something about the blooming flowers, warmer weather and longer days that inspires us to declutter our lives at the onset of the new season. From raking up the debris of winter to clearing out our closets, spring is the perfect time to clean up and start anew – especially when it comes to the way we eat!
1. Overhaul Your Pantry
Cleaning out the temptations in your pantry is the first step to sustaining your healthy eating habits this season and beyond. Reading food labels is important to determine which foods stay and which foods go. Products high in sodium, sugar or artificial colorings and preservatives can be tossed and replaced with nutrient-packed whole foods. Organize your pantry in a way that the healthiest options are visible and readily available for you to reach in and grab on the go. Try taking vegetables out of the refrigerator crisper to increase visibility and having a bowl of fruit on the countertop to encourage healthy snacking.
2. Choose the Right Kind of Proteins, Carbs & Fat
Certain proteins, carbohydrates and fats have a stigma of being a dieting “no-no’s.” However, all people need a balanced mix of healthy proteins, carbohydrates and fats to gain the proper nutrients to grow and develop. Choosing the right kinds can have a number of positive health effects, including:
- Proteins – Protein helps build muscle and keeps you feeling full longer. Healthy proteins include unsalted nuts, lean meats, dry beans, eggs and tofu.
- Complex Carbohydrates – Complex carbohydrates take longer for the body to break down into sugar. Healthy complex carbohydrates include whole grain pasta, brown rice, couscous and oatmeal.
- Unsaturated Fats – Healthy fats help your body feel satisfied and may protect against heart disease. Healthy unsaturated fats include avocado, unsalted nuts and olive oil.
3. Reduce Your Sodium Intake
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report most Americans consume more than the recommended amount of salt each day. While some sodium is alright for your health, high-levels of sodium intake can increase your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and kidney disease. To limit the amount of sodium you consume, load your plate with foods that are naturally low in sodium, such as lean proteins, fruits and veggies. Stay away from salty pre-packaged meals and sauces, instead seasoning fresh meals with citrus juice, herbs and spices.
4. Eat Seasonal Fruits & Veggies
At least half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. While eating any kind of fresh fruit or vegetable will provide optimal vitamin and mineral content, choosing freshly harvested produce in season can have additional nutritional, flavor, texture and cost-saving benefits. Visit your local farmers market or stop by your grocery store to pick up some of the following spring fruits and veggies:
- Honeydew melon
5. Drink More Water
Swapping two 12-ounce glasses of soda for water can save you as many as 8,000 calories and 5 pounds of sugar in just one month. In addition to saving you calories, drinking water can lead to a number of other health benefits, including faster weight loss, boosted metabolism, clearer skin, better digestion and higher levels of productivity. To make sure you are getting the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, try carrying a refillable water bottle, adding lemon for flavor or drinking a cup of decaffeinated tea before bedtime.
Want to Learn More?
Spring into a healthier you with UnityPoint Health – Trinity! To learn more about building healthier habits for a healthier life, contact our Weight Management team at (309) 779-2500 for information on both surgical and non-surgical weight loss services.