Start eating healthy this spring

Colorful vegetables

Spring is officially here. As you’re rolling up your sleeves for spring cleaning, why not overhaul your cupboards and remove the foods that are sabotaging your health?

Start eating healthy and purge your kitchen of processed foods, products with more than five ingredients, expired items, and sugary and salty snacks.  Avoid foods with ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, trans or saturated fats, and any other additives you cannot pronounce.

Load up on lean proteins, such as tuna, sardines, salmon and low sodium beans.  Trade out high-sugared cereals for oatmeal flavored with cinnamon and fruit. Try some new grains such as quinoa, faro or buckwheat.

Declutter your freezer

It’s easy to throw foods in the freezer and forget about them, or allow them to become buried by recent purchases. Get rid of anything with ice crystals forming on it. Foods with freezer burn not only lose flavor, but also their nutrient density, especially produce. Meats can keep up to nine months in the freezer. Make room for frozen fruits and vegetables to have on hand to supplement meals, shooting for the “My Plate” goal of making half your plate fruits and vegetables.

Lighten up your fridge

Even with plenty of frozen fruits and vegetables, you want to be sure to have room for fresh varieties. Aim for foods that keep for days such as oranges, cauliflower, apples and cabbage.  Don’t cut up anything or pre-wash produce when you bring it home from the store. Although this may seem like a time saver, it will make the produce spoil sooner. Save food prepping for the night before to save time. Swap out creamy condiments like mayo, salad dressings and sour cream for mustard, flavored vinegars, lemon or lime juice, Greek yogurt and olive oil. Always have a carton of eggs for a quick protein that goes well with any snack or meal.

Food storage

Finally, put everything in its place. To make sure your healthy habits stick, it is important to put energy and time into where you are storing your foods. Keep the nutrient-dense options front and center and the treats in the back, perhaps out of sight out of mind. It is also key to keep the FIFO method of inventory in mind when restocking shelves, which means ‘first in, first out.’  In other words, rotate the items you already have to the front of the freezer, or cupboards and then put the newer items in the back.

Farmers markets

Stocking your kitchen is the first step to setting yourself up for a healthy spring. Farmers markets are a great way to bring more variety and seasonal options into your house. Starting this year, Anne Arundel Medical Center’s farmers market will accept Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits via the electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card. The AAMC farmers market is open to the community. It returns on June 2 and will run every Friday from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm in the Hospital Pavilion South (ground level) located at 2001 Medical Parkway. By accepting SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, AAMC is expanding access to fresh fruits and vegetables to everyone in our community.

Authors
Caldwell Shackelford Photo3

By Ann Caldwell and Maureen Shackelford, nutritionists and registered dietitians at Anne Arundel Medical Center. To reach them call 443-481-5555.

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