As the temperature begins to rise, the desire to begin spring cleaning sets in. Have you cleared out your closet, basement or garage yet? If you haven’t, it’s probably on a “to-do” list somewhere. But, have you given any thought to spending time in the pantry or refrigerator to get rid of the foods that are less healthy in order to make room for those that are good for you?
Experts agree that eating clean and exercising daily are the key components to overall health and wellness. There is no better time than now to begin both regimens. Go for a walk or a bike ride or anything else that gets you outdoors for at least an hour a day. Spend 15 minutes a day in the sun without sunscreen. Why? Many Americans are vitamin D deficient and will benefit from the exposure. However, what most people don’t know is that, without adequate vitamin D, the body cannot absorb calcium. So, the key to strong bones is vitamin D + calcium.
Do you have low fat dairy products in the refrigerator? If you don’t, toss the old. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurts are rich sources of important nutrients, including calcium and protein. Unlike other foods, when fat is removed from dairy products, no additional ingredients are added. So, stock up on low fat dairy but beware of flavored yogurts that are very high in sugar. Instead, have plain yogurt, add fresh fruit, a teaspoon of honey and a tablespoon of flax or chia seeds for a satisfying and nutrient rich treat.
What about fresh produce? Fresh fruits and vegetables are delicious but they can be expensive and spoil quickly if not consumed. My advice to clients is to check what’s currently in season before buying. The seasonal produce is always less expensive. There are many websites that can give you this information, including fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org. When possible and affordable, choose organic if the skin on the produce is eaten. For example, choose organic apples or berries but not organic bananas or pineapples. Also, check out your local farmers market to look for the best prices on fresh produce. It may surprise you.
What about your pantry? Is it stocked with wholesome snacks and cereals or nutritionally deficient ones? How do you know? Read the food label. Ideally, a serving should have less than 8g of sugar, 5g or more of protein and 20% or more of dietary fiber. I also like to encourage clients to look for foods that have no more than 5 ingredients listed. This will help you determine if that cold cereal you have been eating is actually good for you. Does your oatmeal contain just oats or other unnecessary ingredients? Now is the time to toss these nutritionally inadequate foods and spend some time reading food labels in the aisles of your local supermarket to find ones that you’ll feel good about eating.
So, before you clean out anything else this spring, head to the kitchen. Toss out the old and replace with healthy, nutrient dense foods. You just might be amazed at the new found energy you’ll have to do all those other things on the never-ending “to do” list.