I looked up the word origin of the word “Spring” and found that it basically means “to jump.” So “Spring” is about sprouting, emerging, youthful-ness and so much more. Ever since I wrote my first book, Staying Healthy With the Seasons, I have considered Spring the time of new beginnings and re-establishing the foundations of our health.
Spring is also the time of year when (in the northern hemisphere) the days begin to lengthen and our Mother Earth emerges from her cold winter sleep. It is a time of birth and re-birth, of sprouting, of thawing snows and new buds on plants and trees. It is also a time for each of us to renew our commitment to optimal health and nutrition.
Here are some simple ways for you to “get in sync” with Spring and optimize your health for the coming year.
By definition our bodies need water for so many reasons…to transport nutrients, supply our cells with fluids, promote detoxification, provide our kidneys and livers with the capacity to remove waste products. Water also helps our bodies regulate our temperature and protect our joints and organs.
People often ask me how much water they should drink, and the old “six-to-eight-glasses-per day” rule is not always the best. What I tell people is: Eat lots of vegetables and fruits and drink fluids when you are thirsty—this is the right amount of water for YOU! Of course, if you exercise and sweat, or during the warmer climates, you may need more liquids.
2. Focus on Veggies & Fruits
In addition to being an excellent source of hydration, fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, essential minerals, fiber and lots of antioxidant nutrients. Eating a seasonal diet centered around plant-based foods is the most healthful and natural way to nourish and support you body. Think about making veggies and fruits the core of your meal, then adding other elements as you desire. Let’s face it—veggies and fruits are one of Mother Nature’s purest ways of delivering energy and high-quality nutrition to our bodies. Consider in your local region what Spring veggies and fruits are coming into season, and either plant them for use, or go to local farmers’ markets and natural food stores and bring them home for great meals and recipes.
3. Pantry Makeover
Spring is a great time to go through your kitchen and pantry and “clean house.” Open your pantry doors, and ask: What’s the first item of food I see? Well, what you see is what you eat! I recommend that you see Spring as a great time for a “full pantry makeover”—rid your cabinets, shelves of foods you know are not good for you, including those which are highly-processed, contain artificial/chemical additives, those high in sugar, or poor quality oils, or are out-of-date —and you can build on this makeover by being sure you don’t buy them when you next go shopping. Instead, bring your healthy foods and snacks home and place them at eye-level where you and your family can easily reach them. You will probably find that in addition to eating more healthfully at home, you will start being an even better shopper for healthy foods when you are at the store.
4. Free the Fridge and the Freezer
What’s the first thing you see when you open your refrigerator? Is it “good” foods or beverages, or is it junk? Think about a quick Fridge/Freezer makeover—ditch the bad foods and put the “treats” toward the back. Bring all of the great healthful foods and beverages toward the front. You might be surprised at what a difference such a simple process can make, for everyone in the family.
Many people have difficulty trying to decide what to eat each day. Well, guess what? One of the easiest ways to deal with this is to sit down and create a weekly meal plan. List out your menu ideas for each day, then write out a shopping list according to plan–what a concept! (And nowadays, there are great Apps to help with this.) You don’t need new ideas every week, recycle your favorite lunch and dinner ideas from week to week and include just enough variety to make the next week’s meal plan enjoyable but not a hassle for you to prepare. If you have children, get them involved with you in this process.
6. Healthy Snacks
Oh, don’t we all love our favorite snacks? Well, snacks come in all sorts of types and sizes, some more healthy than others. I suggest this Spring that you make a list of the healthiest snacks you like, then stock your cabinets with these, leaving the junk snacks on the store shelf. Look through the shelves at your natural foods store and see what is best for you and family.
7. Small Changes
Think about making very small changes in your eating habits—over a year these can have a huge impact upon your health. Some ideas include:
• Reduce sugar and milk/dairy products;
• Cut your oils and mayonnaise in half;
• Reduce wheat and baked good products;
• Have smaller and fewer lattes, etc.
The cumulative impact of “modest moderation” can be huge, and you probably won’t even notice it. Yet, it is quite likely that you may notice some health benefits.
Here’s to a great Spring for all of you as you “Spring into Health.”