Spring has sprung and the change of season is the perfect opportunity to start making healthier lifestyle choices! To help you get started we've put together our top 7 tips for spring cleaning your lifestyle.
1. Check the date stamp
Go through your pantry and fridge to check packaged foods, this includes long forgotten sauces and condiments. Put items that are close to their use by or best before date in a separate area and start planning meals to use them first.
- What does ‘Use by' mean? This item must be eaten by the use by date for health or safety reasons. If it is past this date, it should not be eaten and can't legally be sold. Throw out anything that is past its use by date.
- What does ‘Best before' mean? Food past its best before date may have lost some quality but it is still safe to eat as long as it's not damaged, deteriorated or perished. The item should still retain its colour, taste, texture and flavour if it has been correctly stored.
2. Spot the junk in your food trunk?
Avoid stocking foods high in sugar and fat, especially if you find them hard to resist. Clear them from your fridge, pantry and freezer to make way for healthier items.
Common junk foods to avoid include packet chips, lollies and chocolates, biscuits and crackers, frozen pastries (pies, sausage rolls, pizza), sugar sweetened drinks (soft drinks, sports drinks, cordials) and high sugar cereals.
3. Avoid food going to waste with proper storage
- Open items are best stored in clear airtight containers with the date opened and expiry date marked.
- Rotate items in your fridge and pantry so that you're using the older products first.
- When organising your fridge try to store your foods in the right spots so they last longer (vegies in the vegie drawer, meat in the meat drawer and condiments in the fridge door shelves).
- Make it a habit to check the fridge and pantry when making your shopping list so you don't replace anything until it runs out.
4. Stock up on healthy kitchen staples
- Wholegrain pasta, breads and cereals: stock a variety of pasta shapes, brown rice, and easy to prepare grains like couscous and quinoa. Choose cereals that are lower in salt and added sugar and make wholemeal and wholegrain breads, wraps and rolls a staple purchase.
- Choose healthier oils: olive oil and canola oil are great choices, a non-stick oil spray is also a good option for cooking.
- Condiments: choose lower or reduced salt soy sauce, reduced-fat salad dressings, and include dried herbs and spices instead of salt for flavour.
- Have basics to build your meals: things like canned tuna in spring water, lentils, canned tomato, eggs and frozen vegetables are all great options.
5. Watch your portion size
Eating bigger portions means you consume more energy (kilojoules). This becomes an even bigger problem if you're eating highly processed snack foods, take away foods and sugary drinks. Here's some tips for eating healthy portion sizes:
- Use a smaller plate
- Avoid going back for seconds
- Freeze leftovers straight away
- Still hungry? Have a glass of water. If you're still hungry after that, opt for a healthy snack, like a piece of fruit
- Eat at the table, not in front of the TV
- Aim to fill half your plate with veg, one quarter with meat and alternatives (e.g. chicken, fish, legumes or tofu) and the last quarter with cereals and grains (e.g. rice, pasta, bread).
6. Avoid sugary drinks
It's easy to forget that we take in energy (kilojoules) through drinks as well as food. You can drink a lot of kilojoules without realising it and this can lead to weight gain and tooth decay. Plain tap water is the best drink choice - it's cheap, quenches your thirst and has no kilojoules.
Soft drinks are very high in sugar and kilojoules, and provide no nutritional value other than fluid. A 600ml bottle of regular soft drink has around 16 teaspoons of sugar and contains over 1000 kilojoules! For more information check out our LiveLighter Sugary Drinks Calculator
7. Be active every day
Being active and sitting less is important for maintaining a healthy weight. We encourage West Aussies to do at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity a week - and spring is a great time to start!
"Weaving physical activity in to your day takes a little forward planning but requires little cost and minimal time. This could mean going for a quick walk as soon as you get home from work instead of switching on the TV, or taking public transport instead of driving," says our Nutition and Physical Activity Manager, Steve.
"Remember, a brisk 30-45 minute walk on most days of the week definitely counts as exercise, or you can break it into a few 10 or 15 minute sessions to make it easier to achieve."
For more information, resources and tips visit our LiveLighter website.