A Dietician Shares 5 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Diet | Daily Dose

A Dietician Shares 5 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Diet

April 07, 2021 4 min read

People shopping at a supermarket for spring produce

Joanna Foley - RD, CLT

Springtime tends to bring with it a lot of welcome change. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is over, the weather grows less dreary, and outdoor activities become pleasurable again. 

Spring is also a motivating time for cleaning things up in your life, including your home and maybe even your diet. If you’re looking to boost your health this time of year, keep reading to learn about simple strategies that will leave you feeling refreshed (and ready to take on the year ahead).  

Ways to eat healthier this spring

While focusing on your health is important at any time of the year, there’s something about spring that makes the task easier and more enjoyable. With the combination of the increased sunshine, the warmer temperatures, and the fresh and colorful produce lining the grocery store aisles, there are so many ways to boost your health this season. 

Here are some top tips to keep in mind while doing so:

1. Indulge in seasonal produce

In-season produce grows in its preferred climate and is allowed to ripen naturally rather than in a greenhouse. This brings with it many benefits, including enhanced nutrient density and better flavor (if you’ve ever eaten a tasteless strawberry in wintertime, you know how true this is). 

Eating seasonally is also a perfect opportunity to support your local community and reduce your carbon footprint. You can do this by shopping at farmer’s markets, participating in community-supported agriculture (CSAs), and keeping an eye out for “locally grown” signs at the grocery store. 

Produce that is in season in spring includes*:

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Collard Greens
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Kiwifruit
  • Lemons
  • Lettuce
  • Limes
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Pineapples
  • Radishes
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips

While choosing organic produce is not required, doing so helps reduce your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals like pesticides. You can refer to the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen™ list to determine which items are most important to purchase organic when possible. 

*Note that some of these fruits and vegetables are also in season during other times of the year, but spring is a great time to enjoy them. Also, note that what is in season varies slightly from state to state, depending on the climate. 

2. Clean out your pantry and fridge

When cleaning out your home, don’t forget to include your kitchen. Take time to dig deep into your fridge and pantry and throw out foods that may have expired. This will not only remove clutter but also protect and improve your health when you replace those foods with fresher options. 

It’s also helpful to dedicate an hour or two to organize your shelves and drawers in a way that makes finding ingredients easy. This can help ensure you always know what ingredients you have on hand and reduce your food waste. 

If you have unexpired food in your pantry or fridge that you don’t plan to eat, don’t toss it just yet! Check your area for food banks or community pantries where you can donate goods to those in need. Feeding America has a tool to help you find food banks near you, accessible here

3. Keep healthy staples on hand 

To set yourself up to make healthy food choices, it’s a good idea to keep plenty of healthy ingredients in your home that you can use to make easy meals. This preparation sets you up for success by making it easier to fuel and nourish your body in a healthy and balanced way. 

Grains and seeds in jars on a countertop for spring cleaning

Here are ideas for staple ingredients for both your fridge and pantry:

Pantry staples

  • Canned beans and lentils 
  • Bags of whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and oats
  • Healthy snacks like nuts, dried fruit, whole-food snack bars, and natural air-popped popcorn 
  • Canned tuna or salmon 
  • Nut and seed butters
  • Whole-grain, lentil, or bean-based pastas
  • Olive, coconut, and avocado oils
  • Whole-wheat tortillas, pita bread, English muffins, or bread
  • Low-sodium broths like chicken, vegetable, and bone broth 
  • Baking essentials like baking powder, vanilla extract, dark chocolate chips, cacao powder, and whole-wheat and almond flours
  • Variety of herbs and spices like cinnamon, sea salt, black pepper, and garlic
  • Natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey
  • Other flavor enhancers like balsamic vinegar and low-sodium soy or tamari sauce

Fridge staples

  • Plenty of produce (including seasonal items as mentioned above)
  • Whole eggs
  • Lean poultry like chicken breast and ground turkey
  • Seafood such as shrimp, salmon, and tilapia
  • Lean meats like 97% lean ground beef and pork
  • Condiments like hummus, salsa, pesto, and tahini 
  • Unsweetened plant-based milks like almond, coconut, flax, oat, and soy milk
  • Low-fat plain Greek yogurt

4. Reduce temptations

Reducing temptation doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself, which can easily backfire. Instead, it means setting your kitchen and workspace up for success by reducing your exposure to foods that you know may tempt you. 

As a caveat to this, it’s important to give yourself full permission to enjoy treats from time to time. Planned indulgences can actually make you less likely to overeat those treats in the future. 

When you inevitably find yourself tempted, try waiting it out for a few minutes and asking yourself whether you truly want whatever it is or if there is a different unmet need that can fill the void. 

5. Focus on one health goal per day

Never underestimate the power of small changes. Even minor tweaks, such as adding vegetables to your breakfast or taking a brief walk after lunchtime, can significantly improve your health. Over time, these actions will become habits that can positively influence your lifestyle. 

When setting goals, try to find a balance between what is slightly challenging yet still realistic for you. It’s also helpful to anticipate barriers and have a plan in place for how you will address them. 

Lastly, be sure to have some sort of accountability, whether internally or from a friend. This will help you stick to your goals and lead to the most impactful changes. 

In summary

Spring is the perfect time to work on cleaning up not only your home but your diet as well. Think about what areas of your health matter most to you, and consider incorporating one (or all!) of these simple tips to boost your diet and health for the long run.

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