Early Spring invites a wave of new crops to the Farmers’ Markets. Roots, peas, greens and strawberries will slowly begin to make their way into the city and onto our plates, supporting our bodies’ natural detoxification processes.
It is common to feel sluggish and a little bit stagnant at the end of the cold winter months. Just like plants and animals, we also go through natural cycles that reflect seasonal variations in weather patterns and sunlight.
At the beginning of spring, you may find that your body is naturally craving lighter and fresher fare, rather than the rich stews and heavier meals that supported you through winter. When the cravings for wholesome foods begin, do not hesitate to listen- you will not only support your body’s physical health but your mental health as well.
Discover these top four easy breezy tricks for spring cleaning- inside and out!
1) Spring Clean Your Pantry and Refrigerator
Have you heard of the saying that structure implies behavior? The way we set up our kitchen and the food we keep in our pantries and refrigerators determines what and how we will eat. Take some time to go through your food stash and replace processed, sugar-loaded items with fresh, healthier alternatives.
Consider this simple trick: When you go to the grocery store, begin your shop on the outer periphery of the store, starting with the produce section. You will avoid the colorful temptations of the packaged goods in the center isles.
2) Get Inspired With a Meal Plan
Another way to create heathy behavior is to create a delicious (and doable) meal plan. Take a moment to consider the foods and meals that help your body to thrive. Brainstorm a list of your favorite breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. For inspiration, peruse healthy food blogs and your favorite cookbooks. Consider the influx of spring produce and try to incorporate as much seasonal, fresh (and maybe even local) food as possible.
Tip: Keep your meals simple and fresh to start. Make it easy to follow your meal plan. If you are successful with your first week of meal planning, you are more likely to continue with your healthy habits.
3) Get Your Sweetness From Love Not Sugar
Sugar has made its way into every meal, not to mention drinks and snacks. As a nation, we have such a powerful sweet tooth that companies now add sugar (or corn syrup) to salad dressings, sushi, condiments, soups, sauces, smoothies, yogurts, crackers, breads, and so much more. Our food industry understands the addictive powers of sugar, and they use it so we will crave more and buy more. Read labels, avoid processed foods and cook at home as much as possible, so sugar doesn’t sneak its way onto your plate unconsciously.
So why does this matter? Eating processed foods and sugar spikes our blood sugar levels to unhealthy levels, causing our bodies to quickly respond by releasing the hormone insulin. After spiking in an energetic high, a blood sugar crash with quickly follow. When we repeat this cycle, we can develop insulin resistance and eventually, type-2 diabetes. Beyond wreaking havoc on our hormonal systems and metabolism, our bodies store excess sugar as fat, leading to unwanted and unnecessary weight gain.
Tip: Cut out sugary beverages and you are half-way there. Consider saving your sugar quota for a delicious and satisfying dessert that you share with your loved ones. And enjoy your sweets with some healthy fat, which helps to slow blood sugar spikes.
4) Green Is The New Black
How much green can you fit into your day? Green smoothies, green salads, sautéed greens, stir fries, soups, and even green (kale) chips not only taste delicious when prepared with care, but they support every system within your body, providing essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
We understand that it is so easy to go through your life and skip the greens. When life gets busy, home cooking is stressful and preparing greens can feel like too much work. After all, lettuce and spinach are not designed to fill you up, and this makes them easy to skip.
Tip: Add greens to your meal plan and shopping list, and prepare ahead of time to ensure you treat your body and mind with an abundance of plant-based foods that help you to thrive.