Spring is about renewal and fresh starts. Let the fruits and vegetables of the season inspire you to reboot for spring and get excited about a new season. Let’s spring clean your diet.
10 Tips To Spring Clean Your Diet
1. Explore the fruits and vegetables of the season. It’s like a whole new world when spring arrives. Leafy greens like dandelion greens, chard, spinach, and herbs are plentiful. We’re starting to see fava beans, asparagus, bell peppers, tomatoes. Tomatoes usually get better in late summer. And even though you see some of these foods in the supermarket all year long, they are at their peak in spring. We’ll start seeing strawberries, stone fruits, salad lettuces, arugula, cucumbers, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, fennel, radishes. Think about building your meals around all of these wonderful spring vegetables.
2. Put together inventive salads. I’m really into salads lately, and I plan to experiment with unconventional ingredients. A salad doesn’t always have to be lettuce and maybe some cucumber. There are so many kinds of greens available. I love adding fruits and vegetables to my salads. Try adding fresh herbs, nuts, and seeds. Start thinking of salad in a new way. And make your own dressing. I’ll be posting some salad dressing recipes very soon.
3. Fill half your plate with veggies. When you sit down to a meal, start by reserving half of your plate for vegetables. Oftentimes in the U.S. we plan our meals around meat. On the Mediterranean diet, meat is eaten as a side dish or used to add flavor, like adding a little pancetta to a meal. Start with vegetables, more than one. Strive for 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. I suggest one of them be a dark leafy green.
4. Plant some fresh herbs in your garden or in pots in your kitchen. I used to run a coaching program called La Dolce Vita Spring Training. On the first day of that program I had people plant an herb. It could be in your backyard or in a small pot in your kitchen. I usually start with basil because it grows easily and I have many uses for it. By the time summer comes, it should be in full bloom. Think about what herbs you like to cook with, and plant them for yourself. I usually have basil, chives, rosemary, lemon balm, and parsley, sometimes cilantro. I also like to grow tomato and hot peppers. As your herb plants bloom, think about how you are blooming too.
5. Hydrate. Drink lots of water, especially in the warm weather. If you’re not a big fan of water, add some lemon or strawberry slices, or buy a fruit infuser. Make herbal iced teas or iced coffees at home. Do it with style. I think drinks taste better when you make them cute. Buy some mason jars or milk bottles, add a cute paper straw, something biodegradable or reusable. You can get really cute paper straws at the dollar store. They make drinks look so much more appealing.
6. Add nuts and seeds. Sprinkle them on salads and soups. They add nutrition and a little crunch. They make great snacks too. When you’re looking for a little pick-me-up in the afternoon, have a small handful of walnuts to give you a boost and curb your appetite. Add pumpkin and sunflower seeds to your breakfast toast. Get creative.
7. Try a new whole grain. On the Mediterranean diet we’re always talking about whole grains. What is a whole grain? It’s a grain that has been minimally processed. Think brown rice instead of white rice. It keeps more of its nutrition and fiber. And it has more of a feel when you chew it. Try something new. Farro is a great choice. It’s one of my favorites. It’s very similar in texture to barley. Quinoa is a good choice if you have trouble with gluten. Look for ancient grains when shopping.
These last three are lifestyle tips:
8. Take walks. I’ve been such a coach potato since the virus hit. My local gym closed, and even now that it’s back open, I don’t feel comfortable going there. I’m really happy the weather is getting warmer so I can take walks around the neighborhood and in the park. Get moving. If you’re stuck at home working or being a caregiver, there are so many free exercise routines on YouTube. Take a dance class or do a quick stretching routine. You’ll feel so much better.
9. Bring fresh flowers into your home. I know this isn’t a health tip. But it is a mental wellness tip. After the doldrums of winter, flowers are pretty and colorful, and they make everyone happy. Brighten up a room with flowers. It will do wonders for your outlook. I get them at the supermarket. They are about $4 a bundle, so I usually buy two and mix them together. If you’re feeling creative, sit down and draw them with colored pencils or paint them with a watercolor set. Or take some pictures of them with your phone and then play with some apps that apply special effects. Get your spring creative juices flowing. Or write a poem about them. Do something fun.
10. Buy some pretty paper napkins in spring colors to brighten up your table. I get them at the dollar store. They come in all kinds of colors with matching cups and plates for parties. I just buy the napkins to make the table more colorful. Sometime you can find them with floral patterns or the Eiffel Tower. Make meals a special event. Treat yourself as special as you would a guest.
I hope you enjoy these tips for how to spring clean your diet. Have a lovely season.