Spring Clean Your Diet

Take a fresh approach to spring cleaning from Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S.,R.D. suggestions to recommit to healthy eating habits!

Summer’s coming and headlines touting slimming diets and swimsuit-ready bodies remind us that we’ll soon be trading in our wool and fleece for more revealing clothing.

Don’t hit the panic button just yet. Instead, take a fresh approach to healthy eating. Spring clean your diet, and reset your attitude about what it takes to nourish your body while losing weight.

For me, spring cleaning is more than an activity; it’s a state of mind. It renews my enthusiasm for cooking for my family, and for feeding myself right. When my kitchen is clean and organized, I’m more likely to prepare healthy meals and snacks and resist ordering take-out.

First, You Clean

I hate to clean, but I love the rewarding results. It’s best to give your kitchen the once-over before restocking it for healthier eating. Here are some tips.

Purge. I don’t like to throw away food because it’s costly and wasteful. But there are some foods that must go, like the half-eaten chocolate Santa from Christmas, the leftover chips that call my name, and those mystery leftovers lurking in the back of my ‘fridge.

Pitch foods with questionable safety, too. Food kept too long or at improper temperatures can breed bacteria capable of making you and your family sick. It’s not always possible to tell if a food has spoiled by its smell or appearance, so if you have any doubt about how long you’ve had the food, throw it out.

Clean. Chances are that your refrigerator could use a deep cleansing. I like to use a combination of two tablespoons baking soda and one quart of warm water to scrub down walls and shelves with an abrasive sponge.

Arrange. Check the use-by dates on canned and boxed foods. Arrange cabinet and refrigerator shelves so that items with sooner use-by dates are at the front. That way, they get used first and are less likely to go to waste.

Stay cool. Purchase reliable thermometers for your refrigerator and freezer. Make sure your refrigerator is at 40˚F or less and your freezer is at 0˚F or colder. Check temperatures often because they can fluctuate, especially in warm weather. If temperatures get too high, adjust the controls.

Refresh Your Diet, and Your Family’s, Too


Once your kitchen is clean, fill it with ingredients for easy and delicious meals. Having healthy ingredients on hand for meals and snacks saves time and money.

Keep your cupboards supplied by posting a shopping list on a bulletin board or the refrigerator. Write down what you need as you use it up.

The following list of healthy ingredients is a guideline for stocking up to make food preparation a snap. Add and delete items to fit your family’s needs.



Breads and Grains

• Whole grain bread, such as whole wheat English muffins and rolls, whole wheat naan, whole wheat pita bread, and whole wheat tortillas

• Pasta, regular and whole wheat

• Quick-cooking fortified brown rice, fortified white rice, whole wheat couscous, and farro

• Whole grain crackers

• Quick-cooking oatmeal

• Whole grain breakfast cereal

• Prepared thin pizza crust

• Frozen whole grain waffles


Fruits and Vegetables

• Fresh vegetables such as mushrooms, dark leafy greens, carrots, and green beans

• Fresh fruit, such as bananas, grapes, and strawberries

• Frozen, plain fruits and vegetables, such as corn, peas, and blueberries

• Unsweetened applesauce, and canned fruit in its own juice, such as pineapple

• Canned “no salt added” or reduced-sodium tomatoes

• Jarred marinara sauce

• Reduced-sodium canned beans, such as garbanzo, or dried beans

• Dried fruit with no added sugar, such as raisins


Dairy Foods

• 1% low-fat or fat-free milk

• Low-fat cottage cheese

• Reduced-fat shredded cheeses, including cheddar, and cheese sticks

• Plain, low-fat yogurt, Greek or regular


Meat and Other High-Protein Foods

• Whole roasting chicken (keep one on hand in the freezer)

• Boneless, skinless chicken breast

• Lean ground beef (90% lean or leaner)

• Pork tenderloin

• Frozen shrimp

• Garden burgers

• Canned light tuna fish and salmon in a pouch

• Tofu

• Peanut butter or sunflower seed butter

• Nuts, such as walnuts, peanuts, and almonds

• Sunflower seeds

• Large eggs



• Balsamic or red wine vinegar

• Tub margarine with no trans fat

• Olive and canola oils

• Ketchup

• Reduced-fat mayonnaise

• Mustard

• Reduced-sodium soy sauce

• Reduced-sodium chicken broth and reduced-sodium beef broth

• Salsa

• Lemon juice

Comments are closed.