Spring is the perfect time to implement a new healthy regime – the lighter, brighter days provide more energy and the impetus to get outside and get moving, and we start to see an abundance of fresh produce in our stores and farmers markets. However, to make habits stick it is important to keep them simple and consistent, and here are five holistic health strategies I use myself and with my clients at the beginning of this new season.
1) A morning walk: walking at least 10,000 steps a day has so many health benefits and is a much under-utilized tool for improving body composition (lean muscle mass to body fat ratio), and insulin sensitivity (how efficiently you use carbohydrates for fuel). As the mornings get lighter and warmer I suggest a 20-30 minute walk before breakfast which can improve digestion, boost your metabolism, increase your Vitamin D exposure and improve your mood and cognitive function for the day.
2) Swap out heavier carbohydrates for vegetable-based options: in the winter months our bodies crave dense, filling foods, but in the spring our bodies like lighter, more water-rich options. I love to swap out bread based wraps for nori or vegetable sheets and replace dense pasta with spiralized vegetables such as carrot and zucchini.
3) Add in bitter salad greens: I love the salad options that spring brings, and encourage my clients to add bitter ingredients such as endive, arugula, radicchio and radish to their leafy green salads. Foods with a bitter taste help to aid digestion and always ensure you serve with salads with a little fat to ensure the bioavailability of the fat-soluble vitamins.
4) Include plant-based proteins: plant-based proteins can be a great source of micronutrients and fiber, and it is incredibly simple to add them to our diet. My favorite options include chickpeas, black lentils and hemp seeds, all of which can be added to spring salads for a light energizing lunch.
5) Incorporate fresh herbs: fresh herbs are often just seen as a garnish for meals, but they can actually be incredibly nutrient dense and great for our gut health. Add to salads, sauces and pestos, steep in hot water for fresh herbal teas, or incorporate into smoothies for a light, bright spring breakfast like my Lemon and Mint Smoothie.
Lemon and Mint Smoothie
1 scoop plant-based vanilla protein or 2 scoops vanilla collagen peptides
1 lemon, peeled
½ cup frozen spinach
1/8 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 cups almond milk
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.