Shape up eating habits for spring

March is National Nutrition Month and what better time to think about improving eating habits than spring.

As a registered dietitian I know there are many people who desire a healthy diet, but feel like it’s too far out of their reach so they never even try. This attitude may come from the belief that you have to overhaul your entire diet in order to be healthy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. For most of us, small changes can make a big difference! It’s not an all or nothing effort.

These small changes are ones anyone can make, and when combined together, the results are a healthy diet.

Keep fruit handy--Research shows that those who have fruit bowls on display consistently eat more fruit than those who do not. Keep it in reach and ready to eat.

Sneak in vegetables -- Adding extra vegetables, such as grated zucchini, carrots, spinach or kale, and bell peppers, to pasta sauces and soups is one way to develop more flavor and get an extra serving of vegetables. It’s also a great, flavorful way to reduce sodium too.

Convenience -- If peeling, cutting and chopping aren’t your thing, then let someone else do the work. Food companies and grocers offer a great selection of prepared produce. Sliced veggies and prepared dips like protein-rich hummus are great to have on hand.

Don’t skip dessert --That’s right! A fruit-based dessert has the ability to offer a light, refreshing, naturally sweet end to a meal and a boost to your daily fruit intake. Desserts like dark chocolate covered strawberries add heart-healthy antioxidants, some fiber, and a host of vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients to your day.

Go meatless -- The campaign for “Meatless Monday” is gaining popularity and concept is simple: One day a week, cut out the meat. To make your goal even more attainable, use your Meatless Monday as a make-ahead day to prepare extra fruits and vegetables for the week.

Don’t forget to snack --Stock your kitchen, desk, car and purse with nuts, fruits (fresh or dried), vegetables and yogurt. All of these add that extra dose of healthy vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will keep energy levels up all day long.

Substitute -- Instead of reaching for pre-made marinades that are packed with salt, let meat soak in a mix of olive oil, herbs and citrus juice to get the rich flavor without added sodium. Same goes for salad dressings, opt to make your own to reduce sodium and calories.

Balance every meal -- Lean, healthy proteins like fish, beans and legumes, and eggs are healthy sources of protein that should be included in the diet at every meal since protein can be very filling, while having minimal impact on blood sugar levels and will help keep you full.

If you’re either too busy or not sure where to start with your own eating habits, then let us help you, call 1-800-442-DIET (3438) or visit