While we patiently (or perhaps impatiently by now) wait for spring to arrive, we often tick off a list of things we do in order to put winter behind us and prepare for summer. Perhaps you wash up winter coats, caps and mittens and put them away for the season. Maybe you clean out the garage and sweep out all the salt and grime that was deposited from the long winter. To get ready for the summer, you might spend some time in your closet, swapping out winter clothes for shorts and sandals. This “in-between” time, when we are making changes and preparations for the upcoming season, can also be a good time to swap out some of our eating and lifestyle habits and adopt new ones. Here are five easy tips to help you get off on the right foot:
1. Strive for five: That is five fruits and vegetables. It is so much easier to work with fruits and vegetables when they are in season; more plentiful; at their tastiest; and available from the farmer’s market, the fruit/vegetable stand or, better yet, your own garden. Even if you don’t have a piece of ground for a garden, you can have pots on your patio or deck with tomatoes, berries or other favorites to make it easy to eat five fruits and vegetables a day.
2. Lace up your tennis shoes: It’s light long into the evening, you don’t usually need a coat and it just feels so good to be outside after being cooped up all winter long. Now is the time to commit to at least 30 minutes of exercise outside every day. Maybe it’s walking with friends or playing with the kids or a game of golf or Frisbee. Whatever your preference, get into the exercise habit when there are so many good options.
3. Experiment with herbs: As you plant your garden and flower beds, include a few herbs, such as rosemary, chives or thyme. These little plants are hardy and prolific and taste so good on your food that you won’t even miss the salt you may usually add. Now is a great time to experiment with recipes using your own herbs.
4. Fire up the grill: Spring and summer is a great time to use the grill. Make sure your propane tanks are full so you’re ready for the grilling season. Grilling is a great way to prepare food without having to use extra fat. Meat is the traditional grilled food, but you can grill vegetables and other foods as well. Invest in a grill basket or skewers and find new ways of cooking old favorites.
5. Stay hydrated with water: Summer activities and heat make us thirsty, and it’s important to stay hydrated. Reach for water instead of sugary sodas and drinks to quench your thirst. Keep a pitcher of ice water handy in the refrigerator, or take along an insulated water bottle to keep you hydrated as you play or work outside. Water is a great thirst quencher and it’s calorie free!
If you can start with these tips now, by the end of the summer you just might have developed some habits that you can carry into the next season. But we don’t want to talk about that “next season” just yet. First let’s be sure to enjoy the spring season that we’ve all been waiting for!