As the days continue to get longer, you may be experiencing renewed motivation to eat healthy and live a more active lifestyle. And with even more fresh produce becoming available, now is a great time to do exactly that!
In this post, we’ll talk about how to eat healthy during the spring. We’ll discuss what great, nutritious spring foods are available and give you some tips to improve your diet quality during this exciting season.
Related: Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan
Spring Healthy Eating
Depending on where you live, vibrant colors may be popping up all around you, including at the grocery store!
To find the best produce right now, you need to know what foods are in season in the spring. Seasonal eating helps support local farmers, keeps costs at bay and gives you better tasting, more nutritious produce.
In the US, the following are at their peak in April, May and/or June:1
|Spring Fruits||Spring Vegetables|
To see what foods are in season in your location, check out this seasonal food guide.
6 Tips to Eat Healthier This Season
Many people like to think of spring as a “rebirth,” and you may find yourself motivated to make healthy changes. Or, maybe your schedule is ramping up, and you want to make sure you have enough energy to tackle it all.
Let’s help make healthy eating a little easier with our top spring nutrition tips. Whether you want to completely “spring clean” your diet, or transition slowly, these tips can help you reach your health goals.
#1 - Pack in Big Flavors
Think healthy foods are bland or don’t taste good? Healthy items like raw vegetables may not appeal to some people, but there are so many ways to pack in tons of flavor, especially in vegetable dishes!
Go wild with flavorful in-season ingredients like garlic, fresh herbs, radishes and onion. They can take your meal to the next level – and help you enjoy foods you previously disliked!
How you cook your food can also accentuate different flavors.2 For example, caramelizing pineapple brings out more depth. Roasting vegetables (versus steaming) will give you different tastes and textures too.
Get Inspired: Plant Based Meal Plan
#2 - Start Your Day with Veggies
As spring progresses, more and more vegetables become available! Add extra nutrition to your breakfast by preparing a savory meal such as a veggie omelet.
Not only is this a really healthy breakfast, but you’ll be sure to use up any fresh produce you purchase. You could also pack vegetables into your morning fruit smoothie to boost nutrition and reduce food waste.
#3 - Go Green(er) in Salads
Lettuce is now in season, but so are many other types of salad greens! In general, the darker greens hold way more nutritional value, such as more vitamin K and vitamin A than iceberg lettuce.3
So, instead of making a salad with just lettuce, mix in dark greens like kale, spinach and Swiss chard. Plus, dark greens hold up really well during cooking, which is great for warm salads.3 More on that next!
#4 - Expand Your “Salad” Horizons
Speaking of salads, don’t limit yourself to only cold salads with raw veggies. For some people, a cold salad isn’t satisfying or doesn’t sit well with them. This may be because some produce such as apples, mushrooms and asparagus contain FODMAPS. FODMAPS are specific types of carbohydrates that can cause symptoms of malabsorption like bloating, gas and cramping in some people.4
Instead, you can still get tons of great nutrition through warm salads, produce-packed sandwiches, soups and pasta dishes.
According to the Healthy Eating Plate, the goal is to make half of your meal fruits and vegetables.5 In other words, increase the vegetables and decrease the noodles in a pasta salad. Load your homemade pizza with vegetables (or maybe, pineapple) instead of processed meats. Go out and grill fruits and veggies, rather than just hot dogs and hamburgers.
#5 - Power Up Your Produce
If you love eating fruits and veggies, that’s great! However, for those who struggle to get enough healthy produce, you may want to add something “more” to your meals and snacks.
For example, have a spoonful of peanut butter with your banana for extra protein, fiber and healthy fat. Serve a scoop of Greek yogurt with strawberries so it can hold off hunger longer. Make your lunches and dinners more hearty with whole grains and ancient grains like quinoa.
As you can see, including more fruits and veggies into your diet doesn’t have to be boring or unsatisfying.
#6 - Focus on Key Seasonal Nutrients
It’s essential to get a variety of nutrients all year long, but you may want to pay special attention to certain ones in the spring. Try to include these key nutrients in your spring diet:
- Fiber: A plant-based substance that helps the digestive system. It’s great for reducing constipation and sluggishness, especially if you’re trying to be more active.6-7 Found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, starches and grains.
- Vitamin D: A vitamin we get from sunlight and/or certain foods. During this time of year, we may still need to pay attention to this vitamin. Found in salmon, egg yolk, fortified cereals and fortified milk.8
- Complex Carbohydrates: A macronutrient designed for long-lasting energy, especially if you’re trying to get out and about after a long winter.9 Found in fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and starches.
Learn More: What Nutrients Are Missing From Your Diet?
Even though it is best to get nutrients from real food, talk to your provider about your need for multivitamins and other nutritional supplementation.
1 US Department of Agriculture. Seasonal produce guide. SNAP Education Connection Website. Accessed January 30, 2023.
2 Culinary Institute of America (CIA). 3 types of cooking methods and the foods that love them. CIA Website. Published October 4, 2016. Accessed January 30, 2023.
3 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Different kinds of lettuces and greens. AND Website. Published January 11, 2021. Accessed January 30, 2023.
4 Dietitians in Medical Nutrition Therapy. Nutrition therapy: The low FODMAP diet. AND Website. Accessed January 30, 2023.
5 Harvard School of Public Health. Healthy eating plate. Harvard Website. Accessed January 30, 2023.
6 University of California San Francisco (UCSF). Constipation. UCSF Website. Accessed January 30, 2023.
7 Mayo Clinic. Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet. Mayo Clinic Website. Published November 4, 2022. Accessed January 30, 2023.
8 Ellis E. What is vitamin D? AND Website. Published February 16, 2022. Accessed November 15, 2022.
9 American Heart Association. Carbohydrates. Updated April 16, 2018. Accessed January 30, 2023.