Spring Cleaning Your Nutrition In Preparation For Warmer Weather
As the warmer months start creeping up (albeit, very slowly) it’s time to start dusting off the cobwebs, come out from our cosy spots in front of the fireplace (read: Netflix) and embrace the fact that it’s time to come out of hibernation. As always with living in Canada, winter feels like a never-ending battle, but with spring just around the corner, we all start to think about that one practice that allows us to brush off the cold weather and welcome warm weather with open arms: the annual ‘Spring Clean.’. Now it’s perfectly natural that when we think about spring cleaning, we tend to start with our homes, letting in a bit of nature that we’ve just spent the last 5 months shielding ourselves from. But spring is also a great time to think about some changes that you can make to your body, starting with your diet.
Throughout the cold, winter months, our bodies naturally crave warming, comforting, energy-dense foods – soup, stew, bread, chili, hot chocolate, and pasta. Foods that just scream ‘HIBERNATION!’. Cooler temperatures, fewer daylight hours and more time spent inside can have a significant effect on the types of foods we eat. But with positive temperatures just around the corner, there are a few things that we can do to prepare our bodies for the warmer weather.
1. Start at the source: the kitchen.
I don’t know about you, but over the course of the winter, my pantry becomes less and less healthy. Think cookies, crackers, store-bought soups, chocolate, you name it. Sugary comfort food at its finest.
So, start here. Consider throwing all of those unhealthy pantry items that you’ve accumulated over the course of the winter into a large Tupperware container and donate it to a local family or food shelter. Removing all the comforting high sugar, high-fat foods from your pantry or fridge is the perfect way to kick-off your spring clean, remove temptation and creates the feeling of a clean slate. (Plus, it’s also a very therapeutic practice. Bonus!)
2. Pull back on portions
As I’m sure we can all agree, it’s very easy to let serving sizes creep up throughout the cold months. So, as we approach the spring and summer months, be more mindful of the size of your portions. A few simple tricks to help with this is to use smaller bowls or plates, letting your body digest for at least 20 minutes before you go up for seconds, and serve dinner from the stove, instead of right from the dinner table. Simple, but very effective!
3. Know your fruits & veggies
One of the best things about the warmer weather is that a lot of my favourite fruits and vegetables are finally in-season. While root vegetables are incredibly nutrient dense and delicious, and frozen berries are great to use throughout the winter months, the warmer weather signals a new rotation of in-season produce. Make a note for yourself when various produce starts to become in-season, so you can take advantage of locally-grown fruits and vegetables at the height of their freshness. Here’s a quick list of my favourites:
Blueberries: July, August, September
Strawberries: June & July
Cherries: June & July
Peaches: July, August, September
Bell Peppers: July, August, September, October
Asparagus: May, June
Tomatoes: July, August, September October
(You can find the full list of fruits and vegetables and when they will become available here.)
4. Research local farmers markets
That being said, the best place to source locally grown produce is your local farmers market. Take some time to research when your local farmers market begins and use that as much as you can to purchase your produce throughout the warmer months. Shopping for your produce at farmers markets far outweighs heading to your local grocery store for many reasons: increased ripeness of produce, greater nutrition, supporting local farmers and overall, the produce just tastes so much better. It’s a win-win!
Tip: If you’re not sure where to find out when and where your local farmers markets are, try starting here.
5. Incorporate more hydrating foods into your day
As the warmer weather approaches, it’s important to increase the amount of water you are consuming in your day. If you’re like me, then you probably find that throughout the winter months, you tend to be consuming more coffee and tea, hot chocolate, or turmeric lattes, versus just a plain old cold glass of H2O. This makes complete sense, since when it’s -10 degrees outside, the last thing your body craves is a glass of cold water. Well, now’s the time to start shifting that mindset, and although nothing beats plain water, you can also increase your hydration through certain foods. Cucumber, Iceburg Lettuce, Tomatoes, Celery, Watermelon, Green Peppers – all of these have a super high water-content, are filled with nutrients and are naturally low in calories. You’ll be hydrated and glowing in no time!