How to Spring Clean Your Diet

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

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.

Start Spiralizing:

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!)

Snack Smarter: 

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

  • Apples
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli/Cauliflower
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Greens-kale, spinach, arugula, etc
  • Lemons
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Seasonal veggies such as asparagus, fiddleheads, etc.
  • Seasonal fruit such as berries, plums, etc
  • Shallots

Protein

  • Beans, peas, lentils (canned or dried)
  • Eggs
  • 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 

Dairy

  • Feta, goat, or other soft cheese
  • Milk of choice
  • Pecorino, parm, or other hard cheese
  • Plain yogurt

Grains

  • 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
  • Tahini

Misc

  • Balsamic vinegar
  • White vinegar
  • White miso paste
  • Green tea
  • Coffee
  • 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.

By Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN: Jessica is a registered dietitian and writer in NYC. She blogs at Keeping It Real Food. Image via Domaine.

15 Responses to How to Spring Clean Your Diet

  1. Mindy says:

    Love! I eat primarily very clean and follow my Tone It Up Nutrition Plan. These are great tips! Xoxo Mindy

  2. Anna says:

    These are all great tips! I’ve been trying to eat better recently, so this is very helpful!
    -Anna | http://www.fivefootandfabulous.com

  3. Jenny says:

    Love this! I try to eat clean during the week but I need to get better about it.

    xoxo, Jenny

  4. Alix Maza says:

    I really need to snack smarter lol. I have a tendency to just eat when I’m bored.

    Alix | http://www.apintsizedlife.com

  5. adriana says:

    I love this!! I eat pretty healthy – it’s just the cravings and sweets that get me! But I tend to work out and be more motivated in the summer, so I’m looking forward to shedding a few pounds in the next few months 🙂 haha!

  6. Annaliese says:

    I love this shopping list and might be referring to it soon!

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

  7. Audrey Stowe says:

    wow I really needed to read this post! coming home for the summer from college, I have been trying to clean eat. I found my bad eating habits in college had me breaking out super bad! definitely sticking to the clean eating

  8. Amy says:

    I’ve been wanting to try overnight oats for a while!! Also, I’ve been vegetarian on and off for about a year, but the past month or so I finally made the transition to be fully vegetarian and I can honestly say I’ve never felt better! These are such awesome tips and will def keep them in mind!
    xoxo
    Amy | Pastel N Pink

  9. Bringing a homemade lunch to work is KEY! I always eat so much better when I do that!

  10. I need to get a spiralizer. I have been wanting one for months! I always bring my own lunch and snacks with me to work and school. I am sure I save a lot of $ and eat healthier that way.

  11. Sara says:

    These are totally great tips! I’ve been cleaning up my diet here lately and choosing healthier snacks is definitely tip #1!

  12. Morgan says:

    I’m going to print that grocery list for my next grocery trip!!

    -Morgan
    How 2 Wear It [] http://how2wearit.com

  13. Teresa says:

    So helpful! This post will definitely inspire by next trip to the grocery store. Great post!

  14. Jordyn says:

    These are wonderful tips for a healthier diet, I definitely need to implement more of these into my daily routine!

  15. Thanks so much for these tips! I have been struggling with my breakfast diet. I usually skip it, but I noticed when I eat, I feel so much better throughout the day. I’ve also gotten into a bad habit of eating out for lunch everyday. Yikes!

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