Congrats — you made it through winter! As we transition into spring, check in with yourself about your mental, physical, and emotional health. Because what we eat has such a big impact on our overall state, this is a great time to take stock of our diet and ditch bad habits in favor of new ones that will serve us well in the coming season. Resist the peer pressure to join the office crew on their juice fast — remember that thing about misery loving company? Instead, try some of these realistic, sustainable ways to get on track for spring. Here’s how to spring clean your diet.
How to Spring Clean Your Diet
Start a New Breakfast Routine:
It’s totally normal for our tastes and appetite to change throughout the year. Winter’s hot oatmeal breakfast may start seeming too heavy for warm spring mornings. Or maybe you’ve gotten stuck on a morning croissant hamster wheel and want to start a healthier habit? Try cold overnight oats made with milk or plain yogurt. You can also sip your superfoods by whipping up a smoothie with your favorite fruits, some plain yogurt, and a big old handful of spinach — we swear you can’t taste the green stuff! A spoonful of cocoa powder makes any smoothie or humble cup of yogurt into a rich-tasting treat.
BYO Desk Lunch:
Going out for lunch every day can be a drag on your bank account and make it all too easy to go overboard on calories, sodium, and sugar. Bringing your own lunch lets you enjoy a tasty, energizing meal that meets your needs without exceeding them. Ideally, aim for a serving of protein, some veggies, and a complex carb in the form of starchy veggies, beans, whole grains, or fruit. Need inspiration? Start a Pinterest board of recipes and ideas. It also helps to invest in a cute lunch bag and a cold pack to keep food cool. Save time by making your lunch the night before. If every day sounds way too ambitious, make it a weekly habit to start.
Go Meatless More Often:
Sure, going meatless for a few meals a week benefits your health, your wallet, and the environment, but it’s also a great opportunity to learn some new healthy recipes. Take advantage of spring’s fresh produce and try some veggie-centric recipes. For protein, try beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, or seitan.
This kitchen gadget turns zucchini, summer squash, beets, and other veggies into noodles. Use as a low-carb pasta sub or as a base for a salad or veggie side dish. No need to get all fancy with a giant appliance, either. There are lots of little handheld options that won’t break the bank. (Try our favorite sprializer recipes!)
Snacks are a way to fill in gaps and keep ourselves fueled when we have a long stretch between meals. On a busy afternoon, we need something that’s going to give us the energy we need to power through, but it can be hard to resist the siren call of sugary treats. Aim for about 100-200 calories. How do you want to spend those calories? When deciding what to eat, ask yourself, what are you getting out of the deal? Look for a combo of protein and fiber to help you feel full and alert. (Here are our tips for healthy snacks!)
Make Friends With Full-Fat Dairy:
A little fat gives a meal or snack staying power by slowing digestion — helping us feel satisfied and energized for longer. The fat in dairy can help us absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A and D in milk, as well. Then there’s taste — does anyone actually like fat-free or “lite” cheese? Just keep in mind that portion still counts, so you may want to use a smaller amount of, say, full-fat yogurt, than you would nonfat, or opt for a small instead of medium latte made with whole milk.
Downsize Your Plates:
Giant plates have become the new normal. Not surprisingly, research has shown that we serve ourselves more when we use bigger plates. Use appetizer or salad plates instead. Maybe after a little spring cleaning, you can justify buying that cute set you’ve been eyeing on Kate Spade.
Clear Kitchen Clutter:
Move the junk food out of sight and out of mind. Clearing clutter off the kitchen counters and leaving only healthy foods visible may encourage us to make better choices. This also works in the fridge. Make the healthy stuff like sliced veggies, fruit, and yogurt easy to reach and put the more indulgent stuff in a hard-to-reach place.
Take Stock and Re-Stock
If you bought it in October and now it’s April and you still haven’t used it, give yourself permission to throw it out. Re-stock with healthy options. Here’s a kitchen-basics shopping list to get you started.
Spring Clean Kitchen Shopping List
Fruits & Vegetables
- Canned Tomatoes
- Greens-kale, spinach, arugula, etc
- Seasonal veggies such as asparagus, fiddleheads, etc.
- Seasonal fruit such as berries, plums, etc
- Beans, peas, lentils (canned or dried)
- Fish-fresh or frozen
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc) and/or seeds (sunflower, pumpkin)
- Organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- Peanut butter or other nut butter
- Tempeh or extra-firm tofu
- Feta, goat, or other soft cheese
- Milk of choice
- Pecorino, parm, or other hard cheese
- Plain yogurt
- Old-Fashioned/Rolled Oats
- Whole wheat or sprouted-grain bread
- Whole wheat or brown rice pasta
- Quinoa or other whole grain like brown rice, farro, or buckwheat
Fats & Oils
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- White vinegar
- White miso paste
- Green tea
- Chia Seeds
- Ground Flax
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Honey and/or maple syrup
- Dark chocolate
- Spices: salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika, basil, rosemary, oregano, etc.