Spring is here! While your neighbors and friends are focused on spring cleaning their living space, have you thought about spring cleaning your diet? We’re not talking about starting the next trendy diet in the news, but rather using spring as a time to reflect on what “basic” healthful diet habits you forgot about over the long cold winter months.
Arguably one of the most important aspects of your health is staying hydrated, but typically it gets lost in the shuffle when focusing on our diets. We have a tendency in winter months and colder weather to naturally decrease water intake to stay warm. Springtime is the perfect time to again focus on this.
The average adequate fluid intake, according to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, should be between 92 and 124 ounces a day. Several factors would either increase or decrease that amount, but this gives you a rough starting point; it’s much more than the 64 ounces once recommended. Dietitian Tip: Start your day off with a water bottle before you drink your typical morning beverage!
Eat the Rainbow
This advice, used to encourage kids to get a variety of fruits and vegetables in their diet, is important for adults as well. According to the CDC, only 1 in 10 adults are meeting the recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake.
Take a minute and think: How many servings do I typically consume? The reason to include all the colors of the rainbow: Each color carries different phytochemicals and antioxidants that may help you fight off cancer and reduce the risk of metabolic diseases.
Dietitian Tip: Try to get 2 colors of fruits and vegetables on your plate at each meal.
Skip the Added Sugar
Added sugars can be found in just about everything, from peanut butter, bread and crackers to sauces. It’s important to differentiate between natural sugars and added sugars. Natural sugars are those that are “naturally” found in food. Foods including fruits, vegetables and many dairy products would fall into this category.
Added sugars, just as it implies, are sugars that are added to a food to enhance flavor or texture. The newest Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest limiting our added sugar intake to less than 10% of our total daily calorie intake. Food labels show the total sugar in a serving and what portion of that is derived from added sugars.
Dietitian Tip: Make it a habit as you purchase a food product to look for the added sugar amount in the nutrition label. Check similar products to compare and find the option with the lowest amount of added sugar.
Consume Healthy Fats
Not all fats are created equal. Saturated and trans fats may have negative effects on your cardiovascular health; monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and omega-3s are better for you. You can find these fats in foods like fatty fish, flax/chia seeds, avocadoes, olive oil, nuts and seeds.
Per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, your fat intake should be around 20% to 35% of your total caloric intake. Dietitian Tip: Consume 2 servings of fatty fish a week. Examples of fatty fish include salmon, sardines, albacore tuna and trout.
Be Mindful of Portions
Looking for defense against weight gain? Being more aware of your fullness and portions can help. Most individuals eat out of habit and routine, so use strategies like the hunger scale, smaller plates and meal duration to find your appropriate meal or snack size. Dietitians will tell you: There are no food rules. Using mindfulness is a healthy key and looks different for each person.
Dietitian Tip: Get evening cravings? Stop yourself and reflect on why you are going back to your pantry. Is it out of hunger? Is it out of emotion, like boredom? Or is it a habit?
Instead of working on your obligatory spring cleaning list, follow these tips toward taking a fresh look at your diet - and feel the difference.
The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
Megan Callahan is one of your Hy-Vee Corporate Dietitians! She is dedicated to helping people live healthier and happier lives. Megan received a bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Missouri State University. She completed her dietetic internship at the University of Kansas Medical Center, where she also received her Master of Science degree in dietetics and nutrition. Megan has been working with Hy-Vee full-time for 10 years. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association). Formerly, Megan served as the President and Vice President of the Kansas City Dietetic Association. With a passion for nutrition and wellness, Megan is dedicated to educating customers and promoting healthy lifestyles to our Hy-Vee community. Megan lives in Lee’s Summit with her husband Matt, and their 2 children Kennedy (4) & Carsyn (2).