Are your New Year’s resolutions from January now out the window? No problem. Spring is the best season to turn a new leaf and revise your strategies to eat better and live well. Following are some simple tips and tricks that will help you stay on top of your game.
Declutter Your Kitchen
Thanks to Marie Kondo everyone is cleaning out their closets, but what about our kitchens? Dedicate time to organize your cupboards, shelves, freezer and fridge. Toss out any foods that have expired or have gone bad. If there are unopened packages of edible foods that you will not eat, donate those to your local food bank or to the community soup kitchen so they can be of good use. For each section of your kitchen, organize your food into piles: the healthy pile, the moderately healthy pile, and the not so healthy pile. Once in piles, you can decide what foods you want to keep and how much. For the not so healthy foods you want to keep, put them in harder to see places – out of sight, out of mind! This will help control the frequency in which you eat these foods.
Your organization groups:
- Healthy foods: Examples are whole produce (i.e. vegetables, fruits) or products with very few and simple ingredients listed. Products with low levels of saturated and trans fats, sodium, and sugars are considered relatively healthy food items. On the nutrition facts panel, look for five per cent or less in the daily value of those items listed above (often worded as % DV). Make these foods readily available and easy to grab.
- Moderately healthy foods: These products could be frozen foods, snacks, or even ready-made items. Products could contain a moderate amount (5-15 % DV) of the healthy (fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and calcium) and not so healthy nutrients (fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and cholesterol).
- Not so healthy foods: These foods are highly processed with very little nutritional value (chips, sodas, candies, ice cream, preserved meats, sugary granola bars and some energy drinks). Reduce intake of these foods by making them harder to get to, or pre-proportion quantities to control consumption, or eliminate them from the house completely.
Limit the amount of processed, ready-made foods at home. Careful meal planning on your days off is the key. Choose whole grains, vegetables and fruits, lean protein sources and healthy fats in your diet – include these ingredients in your cooking and snack preparations. If you are a big sauce, dressing or spice mix user, lessen the amount you normally put in or look for sodium, fat or sugar-reduced versions of the same product. Use % DV to assess whether certain nutrients are low, moderate or high. For sugars, you want to keep to less than 10% of your total daily caloric intake (that’s about 50 g or 12 tsp of free sugars based on a 2000 calorie diet). Batch cook, pre-proportion and freeze your meals ahead of the week and defrost each meal individually as needed to save time and money.
Choose Seasonal Foods
Each season brings an abundance of produce, so take advantage of the sales each week. In April and May you’ll find stores stocked with apples, rhubarb, sprouts, beets, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, rutabaga, lettuce, squash, cucumbers and sweet potatoes.
Put in place a contingency plan for days when you may steer away from your food plan, especially if you know you may not eat your meals on time. For longer days away from home, pack healthy, satisfying and filling snacks such as fresh fruits, trail mix, yogurt, pre-cut veggies and lentil/ bean dips. Make these easily accessible so you can grab them when you see them. Aim for two-three groups of foods in each snacking session.
It’s important to allow yourself to indulge in enjoyable foods. If you tend to overeat uncontrollably when it comes to pastries, fried foods, highly salty foods, pre-proportion them out into little containers or bags so you don’t overeat and exceed your calorie allowance per day.
By Rosanna Lee, RD, MS, MHSc, PHEc. Expert Nutritionist / Registered Dietitian
Rosanna Lee is a registered dietitian with the College of Dietitians of Ontario. She graduated from Ryerson University and D’Youville College, and has two graduate degrees and more than 1200 hours of clinical training. Rosanna provides nutrition and health workshops and one-on-one nutrition counselling for clients. In addition to her clinical practice, Rosanna is also a food product consultant, brand marketer and nutrition educator. Her work is often featured in Global News, Huffington Post Canada, and Healthy Directions Magazine.
Facebook: The Good Life with Rosanna (@thegoodlifenutritionist)
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