Spring has finally sprung which means it’s time to not only clean out but clean up–and that starts with your diet!
I know this isn’t as sexy as it sounds but start in the fridge then move to the freezer and pantry and omit items that are expired, old, or just plain unhealthy. You know the ones…the high-sodium, full-fat sauces and dips, the greasy chips, the “snack” cakes filled with trans fat. Ditch them all because they aren’t going to give you the energy you need for a fast-paced summer.
And while you don’t necessarily have to apply feng shui principles to your food storage areas, research has found that having a more organized, de-cluttered, clean environment will help improve your eating habits. Store healthier options at eye level so you are more likely to see those first and select them to eat (ie. a bowl of ready-to-eat fruit on the middle to upper shelf in the fridge and the less-than-good-for-you foods in the back of the pantry).
- Snack smarter
While I just talked about getting rid of salty, savory and sugary sweet over-processed snacks, I don’t want you to give up satisfying snacking all together. Now you get to fill your pantry, fridge, and freezer back up with equally tasty but better-for-you foods.
One food to add back is nuts. They are a flavorful, nutrient-dense snack that the whole family enjoys. You still get the salty flavor and crunchy texture but, nutritionally, you so much more since they are a good source of fiber, protein, and healthy fat. My 3-year-old, Ellie, is obsessed with pistachios. She likes to line them up on the counter and then open them one-by-one. Cracking the pistachios is a good workout for her fine motor skills too!
- Get in the Season
Farmers’ markets are opening back up and are brimming with fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables, farm-fresh eggs, local honey, and more. (If you’re in the Birmingham, Alabama area, check out this list of local markets posted on the blog last week.)
Lettuces are at their prime right now but you can also get creative with vegetable-based salads like my Asparagus, Zucchini, and Carrot Ribbon Salad. Grain salads that combine fresh produce, lean meat like chicken, nuts, and cheese are also a favorite of mine during this time of year. And of course, you can’t forget fruit and veggie salsas as a snack, side dish, or topping.
Our bodies are natural detoxifying machines. That’s the point of our liver and kidneys. While I’m not a fan of supplements and pills to “detox” our bodies, I do believe in eating fresh, whole fruits and vegetables and drinking water to change our body for the better. Make a pitcher of water with cucumber slices, fresh mint, and lemon and sip on it throughout the day, especially if you have trouble drinking plain water. Research has found that the scent of lemon can help to brighten the mood and clear the mind so start each day with a glass of cold or warm water with refreshing lemon.
Not only can you hydrate by drinking water but you can also increase your consumption through the foods you eat. Add foods like grains cooked in water such as brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and whole wheat pasta to your diet. Lean meat has a high percentage of moisture and, of course, fruits and veggies like tomatoes, watermelon, oranges, and squash offer loads of water.
- Be the Portion Police
Downsize your plates, bowls, glasses, and even silverware to reduce portions. If you’ve never done it before, choose one meal and measure out the equivalent of one serving for each of the foods. Plate it on a standard 2015 dinner plate (ie. 11-12-inches) verses a salad plate. It really looks like you’re getting so much more food on a salad plate, doesn’t it! I love our plates at home but they are HUGE so we eat off our salad plates 9 out of 10 times. Interestingly, even the size of plates for children have gotten bigger. I serve the girls off my Winnie the Pooh plates from my childhood often because our other fun character plates are massive.
One other trick to help with portion control is to ditch family-style dining. So make your plate in the kitchen and then bring it to the table. Unless you have the most amazing willpower, when the food or bread basket is not right in front of you it is difficult not to take an extra scoop of your favorite foods or an extra piece of bread when it is sitting in front of you on the table.
How do you spring clean your diet? Share your tips in the comments!