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Lifestyle Choices for Wellness

Timely discussion on topics of health and wellness to encourage action and improvement in personal wellness.

Spring Cleaning (your diet!)

This post is courtesy of a student I have had the pleasure of working with the past couple of weeks. Stephanie Hillyer, a Bradley University senior studying dietetics, has put a fun, seasonal spin on an age old topic to bring the value of healthy lifestyles forward. Let the fresh start of this spring season inspire you to freshen up your diet with some healthy choices, as well!

After a long, chilly winter, it's finally springtime! In my house, that always means "Spring Cleaning," but this year I challenge you to start with your fridge and pantries. Clean out those unhealthy temptations and make room for fresh, nutrition-dense foods! Here in the Midwest, most of our diets tend to rely heavily on hearty meals of meats and potatoes. Although those both offer lots of nutrients to fill us up, try out some new foods this spring during your annual spring cleaning and really explore new, fresh foods that are even more nutritious and filling!

Step 1: Start out by going through and taking out obvious foods that you absolutely know better than to have around the house such as:

  • Soda
  • Candy
  • Potato Chips
  • Ice cream
  • Cookies

Step 2: That was the easy part. Next, dig a little deeper into the fridge or pantry and start looking at nutrition labels for foods that you maybe didn't realize were that bad such as:

  • Sugary cereals
  • Sugary fruit juices
  • Buttery, salty popcorn
  • High-sodium canned products
  • Some frozen foods (T.V. dinners, pizza, chicken fingers)
  • High sodium deli meat
  • Prepackaged oatmeal
  • Salad dressings
  • High calorie/high fat pastries

Research shows that a diet with higher intake of fresh fruits and vegetables leads to a lower risk of heart disease, certain kinds of cancers, obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Whereas, processed foods are high calorie, high in fat and sodium, and just all around not worth putting into your body. With this being said, let's move onto step three…

Step 3: Finally, the hard part is over! Now head to the grocery store or local farmer's market to pick out your new and improved fridge items. Some pointers for selecting the freshest produce are to ensure it is the proper color, there is no insect damage that may cause spoilage, and there aren't any major bruises or punctures on the outside. Some of my favorite healthy fridge fillers during the spring months are:

  • Blueberries
  • Avocado
  • Bell peppers
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Honey dew
  • Oranges
  • Pineapple
  • Spinach
  • Mango
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Peas
The Land Connection has created a Local Food Infographic, with a year-round seasonal availability chart informed by local fruit and vegetable growers. It also presents facts and figures about nutrition loss over time, where your food dollar goes, and how our communities would benefit if only 15% of consumer food purchases went to local farmer–all illustrated in compelling ways.

But enough words already! Click here to see this hot-off-the-press infographic.

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