Spring is all about renewal and new beginnings. It’s perfect time to assess and get rid of things that are no longer useful — including some poor eating habits we may have picked up during the long, dreary winter months.
Are you a junk-food junkie? Do you crave cheesy, gooey, carb-filled comfort foods, even when you aren’t hungry? If you have good intentions to begin eating healthy tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes, you may want to read on.
Here are eight simple ways to spring-clean your eating habits for the new season.
Where are you now and where do you want to be? Are you overweight, underweight, aiming to gain muscle or trying to address some other health issues (fatigue, lethargy, IBS, etc.)? Whatever the case, reassess the current state your body is in and begin anew. Create a goal of list of goals you’d like to accomplish with your new spring-clean diet. What do you want to change? How are you going to make those changes? It can be as simple making X number of meals at home each week, or a specific weight-loss goal you have in mind. No matter what your aiming for, pinpoint why you’d like to change your eating habits and make a game plan accordingly.
2. Grab A Buddy
It’s much easier to jump-start a new routine with a best friend, spouse or supportive family member in tow. Let them know that you’re “spring cleaning” your diet to keep yourself accountable, and try to get them on board. Together, you can tackle the nitty gritty (groceries, dinner plans, after-dinner walks together) and keep each other motivated.
3. Get Informed
If you are stuck in a rut and need some help understanding your nutritional need, a professional nutritionist may be helpful. Knowing what your health numbers are (blood pressure, weight, measurements, etc.) can be a first step towards assessing where you are at and motivating you to eat healthy and break bad eating habits. If you have high blood pressure from eating the wrong foods, now is the time to step up to the plate (literally) and make a change. Invoking a professional will ensure that you are getting the most from your diet. Knowledge is power, even in your pursuit to clean up your eating habits.
4. Make A Grocery List
Now that you’ve got your plan, it’s time to implement it. Create a grocery shopping list with simple, clean-eating, versatile ingredients that make it easy to snack smarter and create healthy meals. Your food list should include plenty of colourful fruits and vegetables (fresh, canned or frozen), lean proteins and fish or seafood (if you’re not a vegetarian), healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil, and complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, quinoa and brown rice. The goal here is to choose foods in their cleanest possible form that you know you will eat and can transform easily into a healthy meal.
5. Keep It Simple
Remember: Making your own chicken consomme or rainbow-smoothie bowls from scratch is all well and good, but healthy eating doesn’t have to be so complicated. Protein + veggies + (maybe) a complex starch = a great meal. A soft-boiled egg on a bed of spinach with some quinoa and stir-fried veggies is an excellent, well-rounded, easy-to-make lunch, with inexpensive ingredients that can carry you through to breakfast and dinner. Throw spinach in a smoothie for a morning boost, and wilt leftover spinach with some baked salmon and brown rice for a hearty, healthy supper.
Not everything needs to be blog-worthy, so choose a meal plan that you’re likely to stick to rather than an overly-ambitious one that may fall by the wayside.
5. Read Your Labels
Remove foods that are overly processed and contain chemical additives from your food list. Go old-school, and read the labels. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 food additives you should never eat to get you well on your way, but as a general rule, if you can pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.
7. Find A Farmer’s Market / Eat Seasonally
Spring is the perfect time to begin supplementing your grocery list with a weekly visit to your local farmer’s market. Local, fresh, organic produce is always a great option when it comes to your food, so try to shop for vegetables that are in season (artichokes, asparagus and rhubarb are examples of wonderful spring produce). At the farmer’s market, you can talk one-on-one with produce growers, so you can ask about the use of pesticides or bug deterrents.
Farmers are always happy to talk about the growing process, plus, the variety and quality at the farmer’s market is usually greater than a chain grocery store can provide. The famous ‘sleeping prophet’ Edgar Cayce insisted that optimum health is obtained from “consuming as much locally grown produce as possible.” As a bonus, it’s more sustainable for farmers, too.
8. Choose Healthy Substitutes
Are you drawn to salty, crunchy, or sugary junk foods? Find healthy substitutes and keep them in your kitchen pantry. Swap butter for avocado on your toast, enjoy a handful of raw nuts instead of chips and keep a bowl of fresh fruit on your kitchen table; not only does it look pretty, but it will encourage you to grab an apple the next time you’re hungry.
Wherever you fall short (and we all sometimes do) in your eating habits, spring is a great time to reassess and reboot. Your body is your temple, so get moving, and feed it the fuel it needs to enter a new season with confidence. Clean up those unhealthy eating habits you may have picked up during the cold, dark, winter months and transition into spring as a healthier, happier you.