Clean up your act this season—no sponge or dust-mop required!
Spring is the perfect time for sprucing up your home, but have you thought about cleaning up your diet? By diet, I’m not referring to a weight-loss plan. Simply put, your diet is what you eat—the collection of foods that you consume each day. If you’re like most folks, there is room for improvement in your diet, and now is a great time for a fresh start! Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
Prime your pantry for healthy eating.
Cleaning up your cupboards can help you clean up your eating habits. You can start by going through everything in on your pantry shelves and removing those items that don’t fit your plan for a “cleaner” diet. Box them up and donate them if you like, but get them out of your house. It’s been shown that when tempting foods are not in sight and easy to access, they are less likely to be consumed. Bottom line: if you don’t buy it, you won’t be eating it.
Pack in the produce.
Fruits and veggies are packed with nutrients but don’t contain many calories themselves—a nutritional bargain! More produce on the plate can help crowd out higher calorie, less nutritious foods. How much produce do we need? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that we fill half of our plate with fruits and vegetables. This is actually easier to do than you might think. One way is by planning to have one serving of fruit at breakfast, two servings of produce (one fruit and one vegetable) at both lunch and dinner, and a fruit or vegetable for a snack during the day. If you can work in more than this—such as by having a serving of vegetables at breakfast as well (such as sautéed spinach in your scrambled eggs)—that’s all the better! Many people find it quite easy to eat more fruit each day because a piece of fresh fruit makes an easy snack, but adding veggies needn’t be difficult either. Maybe you just need some inspiration? Here are some ideas for increasing your veggie intake.
Pick a portable snack
Planned snacks are a great way to put the kibosh on vending machine visits and convenience store stops. If you know you like an afternoon or morning snack, bring something from home so you’ll be prepared. Keeping a supply of healthy snack items at work, in your locker, your purse/briefcase/backpack or even in the glove box in the car will make it much less likely that you’ll turn to something less-than-healthy when hunger strikes. Here are some portable and easy ideas:
- A baggie with a pre-measured amount of trail mix (watch the portion size!)
- A cup of Greek yogurt (provided you have refrigerator access for storing it)
- A packaged fruit cup (look for fruit packed in juice)
- A piece of individually-wrapped cheese and a few crackers or veggie sticks
- A baggie of cherry tomatoes
- A hard-boiled egg