The Better Not Perfect Spring Nutrition Guide
Ashley Koff, RD, and Tori Schmitt, MS, RDN, LD
Ready to trade in your boots for sandals? We are! It’s mid-April and we are craving more sunlight, fresh spring produce, and warmer, longer days. As we Spring Ahead, it is important to pay attention to a few health housekeeping details to avoid experiencing spring setbacks.
This Better Not Perfect Spring Nutrition Guide will help you leap forward to better health, and keep it all summer long too. For every potential health hiccup, we’ve got your Spring Nutrition Solution.
The Health Hiccup: Don’t just dip it! Dip better. Choosing vegetables at your Cinco de Mayo party, bridal and baby showers, or graduation parties is fantastic! But pairing those vegetables with a poor quality dip is not.
Spring Nutrition Solution: Dips can be disastrous. Riddled with artificial, hyper-processed, and even GMO ingredients, many dips are also poor nutrient partners (too much carbs, too many of the wrong fats, not enough protein, etc.). Thankfully, you can Pulse your way to a better dip solution this spring. DIY and BYOD (your fellow party guests will thank you!) with dips like this Sriracha Hummus and this Creamy Red Lentil and Herb Dip. These dips pair so well with vegetables including red peppers, jicama, cauliflower, and daikon radishes. Pulses like dried beans, chickpeas, and lentils pack protein, fiber, carbs and blend great with healthy fats for dips that will bring out the best in your vegetables pairings. This year is the International Year of Pulses, so while you are at it, join me in taking the Pulse Pledge to eat pulses once a week.
The Health Hiccup: Cooling off with foolish frozen desserts. We love to cool down and savor frozen eats and treats, but not if they contain artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners or too much added sugar. Beware of the frozen frauds!
Spring Nutrition Solution: Upgrade your frozen indulgences with better-for-you choices. Your freezer can and should be a health enabler, especially when stocked with organic frozen fruits and veggies (we love Earthbound Farm smoothie kickstarts, nuts, and seeds. When your freezer is stocked with these options, it becomes super easy to make winning frozen eats like these two favorites: Vanilla Spinach Frozen Yogurt and Tropical Protein Popsicles . Made with Tera’s Whey organic, grass-fed protein, these are for better nutrition that not only helps you feel full, longer, but can also help build muscle after an intense spring workout.
The Health Hiccup: Beware of the “Dysfunctional Detox!” We know that spring’s alluring temps and longer days and nights can mean nights (or weekend days) of drinks (rosé, anyone?) and extra bites at graduation parties; or perhaps you are thinking ahead to bathing suit time. Whatever the reason, the spring cleaning, detox desire can be strong, but can also burn you and your bod if you choose the wrong plan.
Spring Nutrition Solution: Remember that our bodies have a powerful, innate detoxification system and when you give it what it needs (and avoid what it doesn’t), it works hard for you, no matter the season. Avoid a Dysfunctional Detox – like so many of the programs and products out there – and choose a True Detox which means eating and drinking foods that contain the ingredients to support your body’s own detox efforts. Topping the list? Broccoli, which contains the highest amount of uber detox supporter, glucoraphanin. Glucoraphanin goes to work to support the body in removing used hormones as well as unwanted toxins. Eat your broccoli with a delicious dip, turn your broccoli into a delicious dip or if you want to go with liquid nutrition you can enjoy Brassica Tea with TrueBroc, which gives you a healthy daily dose of glucoraphanin. What other foods should your True Detox include? How long and when should you Spring Clean? Get the BNS detox guides here and consult here.
The Health Hiccup: Don’t let Spring Slip-Ups in your diet create lasting nutritional gaps. Enjoy spring’s bounty, but invest in quality backups to support your nutrition when life happens (like when you decide to play hookie and head to a ball game for the day or when your longer night means a rushed morning).
Spring Nutrition Solution: With a new bounty of nature’s fresh produce, you may be asking yourself: do you really need supplements? Our great friend and nutrition guru, Dr. Low Dog, has a fantastic new book, Fortify Your Life, which outlines the many reasons for quality nutrient supplementation. If we were perfect with our nutrition daily, we could possibly get everything we need from our food. But no one is or should ascribe to be perfect and there are things even we can’t control – like chemicals in our water or around us that interfere with nutrient absorption. And there are hard to get nutrients, like vitamin D, where you would have to drink about 8 glasses of milk daily or hang out in the sun sans sunscreen – neither of which are health wins. So we recommend supplementation, but only if it’s at least as good quality as the better food choices we make. Dr. Low Dog partnered with MegaFood, and we love the new multis they’ve created – plus their collaborations with farmers – using whole foods to bring you better supplemental nutrition.
The Health Hiccup: Don’t celebrate Earth Day once a year! We are glad that Mama Nature gets her birthday, but we should be doing things daily to celebrate her too as it’s a total win for us and future generations.
Spring Nutrition Solution: Celebrate our Earth daily by choosing organic food. Organic farming avoids toxic and tenacious pesticides, which help keep our air, water, soil, and bodies clean. We love our organic partners like Nature’s Path and Earthbound Farm who have committed to producing high quality, organic foods. We also recognize that organic is the original non-GMO label that’s a win, win worth celebrating!
The Health Hiccup: Don’t apply chemicals banned or restricted from use in the European Union or elsewhere in the world! That’s right – the EU bans/restricts 1300 and the US only 11; we haven’t changed our cosmetic act since 1938! What you apply in the name of beauty or sun protection can be messing with your diet and your health!
Spring Nutrition Solution: Get better beauty – products that are safe and that work – to get all the results you want and none that you don’t. How do you find Better Beauty products? You can check out what’s on the AKA (Ashley Koff Approved) List, you can check the ingredients in your products at EWG.org on the Skin Deep database, and you can do what we do – shop Beautycounter. Beautycounter avoids over 1,500 questionable or harmful ingredients and uses safer alternatives. As an example, some sunscreens use the chemical oxybenzone, which can soak through the skin, trigger allergic reactions, and may act as a hormone disruptor, but Beautycounter’s sunscreen uses an effective, natural, and save alternative. Ashley wears Dew Skin daily; it is a tinted moisturizer with SPF 20 and nutrients that nourish the skin.
The Health Hiccup: Longer days mean later nights and earlier mornings. This can be a recipe for spring fatigue and even digestive distress. The body needs its Zs to recover and prepare for the day ahead.
Spring Nutrition Solution: Set a sleep time and stick to it by powering off your phone, television, and computer well in advance of your scheduled sleep time. After powering off, wind down the night with Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm magnesium, Mother Nature’s “muscle relaxant.” Be sure that your curtains are drawn and your room is as dark as possible. As it tends to heat up in the spring, make sure your bedroom still stays cool. Also, try opting for mid-day naps – even when at work – as recently encouraged by HuffPo Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington. Napping has been researched for its ability to boost work performance – mentally and physically.
What are your favorite, simple ways to stay healthy and avoid Spring Slip-Ups? As always, we love your thoughts and ideas so share yours with us on Facebook (@AshleyKoffApp and @YESNutritionLLC) and Twitter (@AshleyKoff and @ToriSchmittRDN) and follow us so we can share more of our ideas with you.