Happy spring!! It is definitely warming up here in the South. After some much needed rain, the spring flowers are popping up in yards and fields. The hummingbirds have returned. It is time to start encouraging our patients and ourselves to be more active - especially after being cooped up inside during this long cold winter. I know most people dread the word exercise but there are lots of less ominous options. Pruning trees and bushes – raking leaves – joining the kids for spring ball games. It is a great time to start taking walks at the local parks or riding a bike around the neighborhood. There are lots of small ways to increase activity in fun and interesting ways that do not seem like exercise.
Another way to get ready for summer activities is to improve eating habits. This is a good time to assess and reorganize the kitchen. Being organized makes it less likely to have to make spur of the moment unhealthy choices. Here are a couple of things you and your patients can do to increase the chances of making a good decision.
Make your own snacks – When you are hungry and short on time, it’s easy to grab what you can. Make sure that healthy snacks are readily available. Buy fresh fruit and veggies already cut up or spend some time prepping and cutting into proper portion sizes that are ready to eat. Put in snack sized bags that are ready to grab and go. Make it a family activity by having younger children help with weighing or measuring proper portions.
Keep cabinets full – Keep the pantry and fridge stocked with healthy snacks or quick to prepare foods so when timing gets tight, you can avoid the impulse to hit the high calorie drive- thru. Spend a bit of time at the grocery looking for healthy food choices to keep in the pantry or freezer. This is especially important at breakfast time when people are running late and poor choices often become the norm.
Hide the high calorie beverages – If you have to have them in the house, put high calorie drinks and juices out of reach. Make water the easiest option when thirsty. Use smaller bowls and plates - Most of us just eat too much. We have developed “portion distortion” issues. Use smaller bowls especially as those are typically the serving vessels for high carbohydrate desserts.
Stash high carbohydrate cereals – Make it harder to grab those sugary cereals as a snack. In one study, those who kept their cereal out and accessible weighed as much as 20 pounds more than those who kept cereals stashed in the back of the cabinet.
Cut the clutter in the kitchen – Make sure your kitchen table is accessible for its true purpose. Those who mindlessly eat in the living room or in front of the TV, tend to eat more.
Remember to start now. Summer is right around the corner and no more hiding under bulky winter clothes.
See you at the beach!