Let's do a little “spring cleaning” for your diet.
The days are longer again, the first flowers are springing from the ground, and the winter clothes are starting to be stored away. It’s official: springtime is just around the corner! As we burst out of winter life by cleaning and airing out our homes and spending more time outside, there is also potential to burst out of our winter ways of eating. Read below for some tips on taking a fresh start with your diet!
1. The first tip of course is to go seasonal! The great part about season overlap in March and April is that we can still find the remains of winter produce (see What to Eat This Winter) and celebrate new produce coming back in. Spring fruits and vegetables typically include: broccoli, asparagus, radishes, mushrooms, rhubarb, and if we’re lucky, some apricots and strawberries may come out around this time too.
2. Go through your pantry and fridge and pull out any comfort foods. This includes heavier pasta, like ziti or lasagna noodles, canned soup or beans, maybe a favorite cornbread mix or heavier cheese, and do your best to use them up before the weather warms up. These comfort foods are almost necessary to keep up our dopamine levels during the cold, dark winter, but won’t match the lightness and brightness of springtime recipes. Enjoy these last few meals!
3. Replace those comfort foods with lighter options moving forward, such as: dry quinoa to serve as a base for a meal chock full of in-season vegetables, angel hair pasta as a vehicle for a lighter sauce like one with olive oil and lemon juice, dry lentils or frozen peas to mix into a salad, and block parmesan cheese to grate lightly over any of the above dishes (pro tip: save the rind and use it as a salty, savory flavor enhancer in a homemade soup!)
4. Consider purchasing local honey to include a small amount into your diet daily. Springtime means spring allergies for a lot of people, and the local honey carries the same pollen that you’re allergic to which can help your immune system adjust better to everything blooming (similar to a vaccine having a tiny amount of the disease in it). Plus, a bit of honey daily can help to regulate your sweet tooth in reducing your sugar intake after the holidays and Valentine’s Day.
5. Now is a good time to think about healthy to-go snacks and make-ahead dinners. Spring can also mean a lot of popular outdoor activities and sports are starting back up so your family may have a busier schedule with baseball practices and games for example. Keeping fruit, nuts, string cheese, and lower-sugar granola bars can keep you and your children’s diet healthy while running around. Speak with one of our dietitians to discuss some make-ahead dinner recipes, or healthy dining out tips for when eating out is just the only option!
6. It’s time to light that grill back up! Now is a great time to experiment with healthier meals for the summer: grilled vegetables and fruit like pineapple and apricot, homemade turkey burgers that rival beef burgers, and lightened-up BBQ side dishes.
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– Samantha Marks, RD, LDN
Registered Dietitian | Email Samantha