First Day of Spring brings…Spring Cleaning!

Is clutter in your space preventing you from living a healthy lifestyle? Believe it or not, disorganization can do more than just make it hard to find daily things. Spring cleaning can actually help you live more healthfully.

Set a goal to declutter

This spring, set a health goal for yourself to start decluttering little parts of your life one at a time. You can use my “non-resolution” method from previous posts if you don’t have a favorite goal-setting method.

Remember to be specific with your decluttering goal, just like any health goal you have set. Here are some examples:

1) Organize your container cabinet.
You want to set a goal to take your lunch to work twice a week (or once a week or every day—tailor your goal to your life) but your Tupperware® or plastic container cabinet is a mess. Decluttering this space will make it more feasible to pack and take a lunch to work. Once this cabinet is tidy, packing leftovers directly from the dinner table into containers in the fridge is easy. Lunch for the next day is ready to go!

2) Organize your pantry.
Do you ever find yourself overbuying food because you can’t remember what you have in stock? Pull everything out of your cabinets, wipe down the shelves and strategically organize your food. You may be surprised how much you have, and this may be a good time to take a box or can to your local food bank. Put items that are due to expire in the front and work them into your meal plans.

3) Organize your refrigerator.
Your refrigerator can get dirty very quickly, so it’s time to deep clean it. Go through everything: I bet half of those condiments are expired! Store produce and other healthier foods in see-through containers at eye level in your fridge or in a pretty bowl visible on the counter. We typically eat more of what we can see, and if it looks good, it can be one less barrier to making healthy choices happen.

Declutter for better health

Add decluttering to the goals you already have to be healthy in order to make them easier to obtain and maintain. After you have met your goal for a significant amount of time, make sure you reward yourself (NOT with food!) to help you keep going. Happy First Day of Spring and spring cleaning!

What does your pantry say about you?

Many health and wellness shows like “The Biggest Loser” include a segment where the pantry gets raided. You may be guilty of having similar cabinets filled with mac and cheese, sugary cereals, “just add meat” boxed meals, and overly processed condiments. We live crazy, fast-paced lives and sometimes we eat whatever is the quickest—so it’s that much more important to keep the right kind of food in our pantries.

Although it is generally not my recommendation to eat processed, packaged foods, I do think that there are healthy, shelf-stable foods that are appropriate.

It is generally not my recommendation to eat processed, packaged foods, but I do think that there are healthy, shelf-stable foods that are appropriate. Here are few examples:

  1. Beans and lentils are on the top of my list for pantry must-haves. Beans (examples: black, kidney, garbanzo) and lentils are good sources of protein, iron and fiber. These can be added into many dishes including soups, salads, and mixed with side dishes like rice or pasta. These guys are very filling and add a lot of flavor.
  2. 100% whole grain pasta. When selecting pasta, it is important to make sure that 100% whole grain is listed as the first ingredient before water. 100% whole grain pasta has more fiber and minerals than what many consider “regular” or enriched pasta. This tends to be harder to accept for some because 100% whole grain pasta is more dense and chewier. I don’t believe that all grains have to be 100%, but I do think there is added benefit to including them in our diets.
  3. Canned vegetables that are low in sodium are wonderful additions to soups, roasts and salads. I even recommend rinsing vegetables, even if they are low-sodium, to remove any additional sodium. The more basic and bare the vegetable, the better. This means that the vegetable was likely picked and packed without any added preservatives.
  4. Canned fruit that is packed in its own juice or in 100% juice can be a healthy option when fresh or frozen is not available. I recommend using as little juice as possible and eating just the fruit.
  5. Spices! Our wonderful creations in the kitchen would not be possible without herbs and spices. It can be hard to have fresh around during the winter, but I always keep powdered garlic, cracked pepper, basil, oregano, cinnamon and nutmeg in my pantry. As with other pantry items, most herbs and spices include an expiration date.

Alana Scopel