March 16, 2021
Spring is here which means it is time to open the windows, clear the dust away, and rid our homes of unwanted clutter. While I am all for giving your house a good deep clean, think twice before you apply this mentality to your diet.
Influencers, advertisers, gyms, and even that one pushy friend of yours take advantage of the spring-cleaning mindset and begin pushing fad diets, quick fixes, juice cleanses, and detoxes that claim to get you “ready for the beach.”
You may have succumbed to these outside pressures in the past, but this spring, I challenge you to break the never-ending dieting cycle. If that magic pill, drink, machine, or diet existed, we would not be faced with an overweight and obesity rate of 73.6% among adults aged 20 and over in the United States.
As a community health dietitian, I encourage patients every day to eat a balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats. Unlike cleaning your home, making life-long, healthy behavior changes take time and are not often achieved in a week, a month, or even a season. So, when you are ready to begin implementing some healthy changes into your lifestyle, whether that be this spring or not, here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Listen to Your Body
A key principle of intuitive eating is to honor your body’s hunger and fullness signals. When you are hungry, eat, and when you are full, stop! Quit skipping meals and cutting out certain food groups. Overly restrictive diets often limit certain nutrients and result in overeating later. Also, consider being mindful about how food makes you feel. It can help to keep a food journal to document if a food makes you feel bloated, energized, tired, satisfied, etc. You may begin to see some patterns which will help you identify foods to enjoy more often and others to enjoy less often.
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. USDA’s MyPlate recommends making half your plate fruits and vegetables at each meal. When possible, enjoy local, in-season produce from one of the many farmers’ markets or roadside stands in Lancaster County. It is often less expensive than shopping for produce in the grocery store and is a great way to try something new while supporting local growers.
If you are looking to make a change this spring, take full advantage of the beautiful weather and get outside and move. Meet friends for a walk or bike ride, take the dog for a walk or play lawn games with kids. Make sure to wear a mask around people outside of your household and practice social distancing. Exercise is not all about burning calories; it should be enjoyable! By focusing on how movement makes you feel, maybe energized or proud, you might be more likely to make it a priority. Of course, before starting any new form of physical activity, check with your doctor to make sure it is right for you.
Meet with a Registered Dietitian
Since everyone has different needs, you might benefit from meeting with a nutrition professional. Registered dietitians provide individualized nutrition advice that matches your lifestyle, goals, and specific health needs.
Once you have a plan that is right for you, all that is left is to spring into action and make a life-long commitment to better health.