Springtime has a funny way of making us want to clean up our act. From tidying up our spaces to eating better, the message that you can usher in a fresh start through smarter choices is everywhere.
Still, you may be wondering where and how to begin.
In a culture that promotes detoxes and cleanses up and down social media feeds, some might be led to believe that to achieve a “summer body” or kickstart fitness goals, extreme alterations to your lifestyle must be made. What may come as a comforting reality is that making small adjustments as a first step can lead to long-term results that go beyond a fleeting fad or trend.
Prioritizing proper nutrition and exploring healthier foods doesn’t have to be daunting. That’s why we’ve solicited the insight of Kim Rose, registered dietitian for the food tracking app Lose It!. She offers five easy ways to spring clean your diet with these healthy food swaps.
To start, Rose encourages us to look for alternatives to meat by switching to protein-rich, plant-based options.
“A common misconception is that protein only comes from animal products. While it’s true that meats contain protein, they aren’t the only protein-rich foods on the market,” she says. Legumes like quinoa, chickpeas and black beans can serve as tasty additions to your favorite meals while still leaving you full and satisfied. “A cup of lentils packs almost 18 grams of protein while a cup of pinto beans yields 15 grams of protein. So, the next time you participate in Salad Sunday or Meatless Monday, swap out your chicken, beef and fish for a cup of beans,” she adds.
For snacking, nothing beats a savory dip. While salsa, melted cheese, and other sauces have a way of pleasing the palate, one healthier option and superfood can serve as a creamy companion to your chips or veggies of choice.
“Avocados are a nutrient-dense food that contains heart-healthy fats,” Rose says. “You can replace those calorie-rich dips for nutrient-packed avocados.”
We’ve all heard that “a dollop will do” in reference to servings of condiments like sour cream. But Rose suggests an alternative you can enjoy without limits.
“Non-fat Greek yogurt can be used for any breakfast, dinner or a lunch entree,” she shares. “Use it as a replacement for sour cream, heavy cream or buttermilk to marinate your poultry.”
And then there are oils. The versatility of coconut oil continues to be impressive. Per Rose’s recommendation, you can reduce your intake of saturated fats and opt for oils, like coconut, that support heart health.
“Swap out your regular cooking oil for coconut oil. When consumed in moderation, not only will it accentuate the flavor of any dish, but it may also be a healthful addition to your meals,” she says.
Lastly, you may be surprised to learn there’s a stealth seasoning that can sweeten up any dish. Although sugar adds an extra dose of sweetness to treats and toppings, Rose shares that you can grab some cinnamon as a replacement for added flavor. “Instead of sweetening your tea, smoothies, or oatmeal with sugar, swap it out for a dash of cinnamon instead,” she says. “This warm aromatic spice contains a hint of sweetness to leave your tastebuds satisfied.”
Here’s to more flavor, less calories and zero guilt this spring!