Spring is finally here! We should take this time to do some spring cleaning. No, I am not referring to cleaning your house. I was thinking more along the lines of “cleaning” out your pantry and refrigerator. If you open up your pantry and see a bunch of processed junk foods (potato chips, cookies, crackers, candy, etc) you will definitely want to swap out those items for some healthier foods this spring. Also, if your refrigerator is stocked with soda and juice, you may also want to rethink your drink!
Potato chips and cookies are fine every once in a while when used in small amounts as a treat. However, eating these foods everyday can lead to excess weight gain. The nutritional quality of these foods are not that great, very low in vitamins and minerals and very high in fat, simple carbohydrates and sodium. So, what to do at the grocery store? Look for some healthier snack items! Snacking on healthier foods should also help you feel more energized.
Fruit and veggies should be your top choice for daily snacking. But when it comes down to your once in a while treat, instead of chips- try plain popcorn and add your own topping: a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese, a half teaspoon of cinnamon sugar, your favorite herbs and spices. If it is something sweet you crave, definitely having fruit handy will help satisfy this craving (without all the extra fat, added sugar and long list of food additives as seen in baked goods or sweet packaged snacks). Try ½ – 1 cup of plain yogurt mixed in with some fresh or frozen fruit. The natural sugar from the fruit will help sweeten the plain yogurt and tastes great.
Soda and sugar sweetened beverages are the number one contributor of added sugar in the American diet. Drinking just one 20 ounce bottle of cola per day will cost you ~250 calories and equals 16 packages of sugar. Drinking items so high in calories can be risky. Mainly because your body won’t feel as full from drinking 250 calories as it would if you were to eat something that contained 250 calories. So, it is likely that you will consume more calories on a daily basis if you are drinking sugar sweetened beverages.
Water should be your first choice to quench your thirst! If you don’t like just plain water, try squeezing in some fresh lemon or lime juice. Seltzer water is also a good choice because you get flavor and bubbles like you would in a soda, without the added sugars. Another option would be to “water down” your 100% fruit juice. Use about 4 ounces of juice to 12 ounces of water. This will add flavor to your water, but with much less calories than drinking a 16 ounce glace of juice.
By making some small changes to your pantry and refrigerator now, you could start forming newer, healthier habits that will help you and your families lead a healthier lifestyle in the future. And now that the snow is mostly gone, you can also start incorporating some physical activity outside! Enjoy the first weeks of spring everyone!
If you would like to schedule a counseling session with a registered dietitian at Noble Hospital, please call 413-568-2811 ex: 5671 for more information.
Allison Walker RD,LDN, is the Clinical Nutrition Manager at Noble Hospital.