Winter sport has long finished, the days are getting longer and the barbecue is beckoning. Summer is almost officially upon us and, if you haven’t already, spring-cleaning your diet and activity habits is as important as tackling the garden or house.  

We spoke with NZ Registered Nutritionist, Olivia Green (BSc Human Nutrition), who shared her top tips for good health. 

Olivia says, “Spring is the perfect time to take stock of things and then set some simple goals that can become good habits for life.”

Spring-Clean Check-list
o Eat a rainbow of seasonal produce
o Get your body moving more 
o Hydrate well and wisely
o Eat regular meals


Eat a rainbow of new season produce 

Adding a variety of fresh spring flavours, colours and textures to your meals means you are eating a wider range of the many different nutrients you need to stay healthy. 
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet are the colours of the rainbow and also our delicious new season fruits and vegetables.  The bright colours signal their high antioxidant, vitamin and mineral content.  

Look for market specials on fresh tomatoes, zucchini, beetroot, rocket and asparagus, as well as berries, grapes and stone-fruits.  Even when some are still a bit pricey, using a small amount alongside cheaper ingredients makes meals more appealing and healthy.  


Get your body moving more

Our body needs regular exercise to function optimally and the good news is that it doesn't need to be serious sports or workouts.  Use the extra sunshine hours to get outside and move more. Fun activities like walking, cycling, swimming, and backyard games burn energy and help build lean muscle and stronger bones.  Try to do something active every day – no matter how small the effort it can make a difference.

Getting outdoors also boosts your vitamin D levels, which are important for bone health and energy production. Just a few minutes each day in the sun (while being sun-smart) is all you need to top up vitamin D for bone health1.


Hydrate well and wisely

Most adults need around 6-8 cups of fluid per day2, although activity levels may increase this. That’s around 1.5-3 litres of fluid from all beverages, not just water!  Wise drinkers also count the energy content of their beverages as these kilojoules count toward your daily intake.

If you enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage, matching each drink with a non-alcoholic option helps keep your alcohol intake down and helps to counteract the dehydrating effect of alcohol.

Also, committing to a fixed number of regular alcohol-free days each week is a practical way to prevent over-consumption, and you can switch your alcohol-free days around to suit your social calendar.


Eat Regularly

While it may sound boring, having a tried and true routine of regular meals and snacks throughout the day, where most of the time you know what you are going eat, takes the hassle out of making decisions in a rush and avoiding those sometimes not so good choices for you.

Variety is important so at each main meal include some energy-providing carbohydrate, lean protein foods and some healthy fats which are so essential for brain & bodily functioning.  Having a solid baseline eating plan that suits your lifestyle and meets your energy and other nutrient needs will set you up for life.

“Eating regularly also keeps energy levels stable3. This is especially helpful for portion control and weight control4.  When you go too long without food and get too hungry, you’re more likely to eat more at the next meal3. By making sure to eat three quality meals each day and having healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts, and yoghurt on hand, your energy levels stay stable, helping you to make healthy choices and feel good all day long.”




References:
1Ministry of Health and Cancer Society of New Zealand. 2012. Consensus Statement on Vitamin D and Sun Exposure in New Zealand. Wellington.
2Ministry of Health. 2003. Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Adults: A background paper. Wellington.
3European Food Information Council. 2013. Glucose and mental performance. Retrieved from http://www.eufic.org/article/en/artid/Glucose-mental-performance/
4Weight-control Information Network. 2012. Just Enough For You: About Food Portions. Retrieved from http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/PDFs/justenough.pdf