Spring clean your diet

April 14, 2013

For 62% of Americans, spring cleaning is an annual tradition, according to the American Cleaning Institute. While you’re washing your windows and sprucing up the house, take some time to spring clean your diet. Eliminate the obstacles standing between you and a healthy, well-balanced, nutrition-packed, easy-to-manage lifestyle.

The first place to start is the kitchen itself. Is this space well organized with room to work or are the counters cluttered with a week’s worth of mail and crammed with appliances you never use? Is the décor bright, fresh and inviting? You don’t need to remodel the kitchen, but go through and see what changes can be made to create a room that is pleasant and appealing. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Clear the countertops so you have ample work surface
  • Eliminate any unused, unwanted appliances, gadgets, knick-knacks from counters, cupboards, drawers and closets
  • Store frequently used items where you can get to them easily
  • Set up a small CD/MP3 player so you can listen to music
  • Make sure lighting is sufficiently bright
  • Wipe down walls and cupboards
  • Invest in tools and supplies needed for healthy meal preparation: non-stick cookware, a solid cutting board, decent knives, microplane zester, measuring utensils, salad spinner, blender, steamer.Tip 2

Next, purge your fridge and cupboards. Throw away processed food, outdated items and anything with freezer burn. Wipe down the inside of both the freezer and refrigerator, and wash out the bins.

Now that you’ve spring cleaned your cooking environment, you’re ready to stock up on healthy cooking staples. Here are a few basics to keep on hand:

Extra virgin olive oil
Vinegar (white, apple cider, balsamic)
Peanut butter
Spices (crushed red pepper, cumin, Italian seasoning, cinnamon, ginger)
Vanilla extract
Canned tomatoes
Reduced-sodium broth
Canned beans
Brown rice
Oatmeal
Honey/Natural sweetener
Dried fruits
Nuts
Skim milk
Eggs
Cheese (feta, cheddar, Parmesan)
Yogurt
Frozen vegetables/fruit
Lemons

The last phase of spring cleaning your diet is to evaluate what you’re actually putting in your mouth. What food/beverage items should be ousted and replaced with better alternatives? Don’t overwhelm yourself. Here are three easy swaps:

  • Replace soda, kids’ packaged drinks, and maybe even fruit juice if it’s being guzzled by the glassful, with water. For tips on how to consume more water, click here.
  • Exchange all bleached-flour products with whole-grain alternatives.
  • Trade sugary desserts for fresh fruit, frozen yogurt or home-baked goodies.

To put a real shine on your spring cleaning efforts, set aside some time to revamp your eating and cooking mindset and habits. Make nutrition a priority by practicing making healthier decisions. Develop a list of go-to “healthy” meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Set yourself up for success by keeping fresh, filling, flavorful foods available and ready to enjoy.

Are there other changes that could be made during spring cleaning for a better diet and healthier life? I welcome your tips and suggestions.

Image courtesy of Digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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