Tips to Spring Clean Your Eating Habits

Spring is often considered to be an opportunity for a fresh start — and what better timing than now to think about renewing your commitment to heart-healthy eating habits too. Follow some of the tips below to get started!

1. Declutter, especially your kitchen! Clear out all the extras from your refrigerator and cupboards you have not used recently. Toss almost-empty bottles of condiments and food that has expired. Make room for healthy options. Keep fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and unsweetened beverages.

2. Focus on what you can add to your diet rather than what you should cut out. Traditionally when we “diet” we start thinking of what we’ll have to give up. We may feel deprived before we even begin. Start by prioritizing healthier foods you enjoy like fruits, vegetables, nuts, part-skim milk cheese, whole-grain crackers and popcorn. Start grocery shopping in the produce and whole food sections before you go to the aisles with packaged foods, and visit local farmers markets when able. 

3. Pre-prep ingredients or buy pre-cut vegetables and fruit. Put them front and center in your refrigerator so they easy to use for meals and are ready to grabandgo. 

4. Steer clear of fad diets, juicing and detox diets. There is little to no scientific evidence that they work. They can actually make you hungrier because you are not getting enough calories or fiber. A small amount of healthy fat and fiber helps you feel fuller longer. Fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods and hydrate with unsweetened beverages so you can function at your best. 

5. Eat vegetables and fruit more often. They are full of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Select dishes that are already vegetable based: stir-fry, soup, chili, casseroles, roasted or grilled vegetables, and add a side of lean protein like part-skim cheese, nut butter, hummus, an egg or small serving (3 oz) of lean meat. 

6. Read labels. Choose foods that are minimally processed with a single ingredient or just a few that you recognize Opt for less heavily processed foods without added sugars, refined grains and additives that can affect your weight and gut health. 

7. Make most meals home-cooked. Save eating out or take-out meals for special occasions. Get your family involved in simple meal prep like slicing and dicing.  Choose recipes with five ingredients or less. The simpler the better for the grocery bill, prep time and cleanup! 

8. Eat mindfully. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American spends two-and-a-half hours a day eating, but more than half the time, we’re doing something else too. Make eating your priority and enjoy the smell, taste and texture of food. Be present when eating  so you can stop when you’re satisfied rather than full. Eat more consistently so you don’t get too hungry. This usually means eating throughout the day; at least three times a day about every four to five hours. Tell yourself if you get hungry you can have a healthy snack — handful of nuts, string cheese or fruit.  

More tips on mindful eating >>

Adapted from How To Spring Clean Your Diet In 7 Simple Steps, According To Dietitians 

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