On the Table

On the Table: Seasonal change is optimal for diet plan

Guest columnistOctober 8, 2013 

Word on the street is that we have one more week of green leaves on the trees before things start looking and feeling like fall. So I figure the timing is right to suggest that you start working on your autumnal diet plan checklist.

Seasonal transition times are good opportunities to hitch a ride on that sense of renewal – and the surge of motivation – that come with change.

So here are some things you can do to infuse your psyche with a fresh sense of enthusiasm for your good diet and health routines:

•  Take stock. Pull out a notepad or fire up your favorite smartphone app and record your diet and exercise particulars for the next two weeks.

It’s the tried-and-true way to raise your awareness of lifestyle patterns and identify trouble spots. Record in detail what and how much you are eating, as well as the exercise you do each day.

Something to think about adding to your record: sleep. If you aren’t getting enough, you may not have the energy you need to be physically active on a regular basis. And research links insufficient sleep with unhealthy weights, too.

•  Do the seasonal sweep. Go through your pantry, refrigerator, freezer and cupboards, and throw away anything you know you’re not going to eat. (Hint: This is also the time to wipe down shelves and bins.)

If there are foods you’ll eat but they’re languishing in the back – out of sight, out of mind – then rotate that stock forward and use it up. You are making space for new, seasonal staples in addition to simply practicing good home management skills.

•  Restock with seasonal staples. Now you get to buy the fresh stocks of canned beans, soups, cartons of soup stock, whole grain pasta, rice, oatmeal, spices, applesauce, canned pumpkin and dried fruits.

•  Think ahead to meals you can make from scratch at home. The goal is always to eat more meals at home and take leftovers to work or school.

So peruse the web for recipes for soups, casseroles, stews and winter salads and sides. Incorporate some ethnic foods – Indian and Middle Eastern or Mediterranean cuisine tend to be healthful.

Now that it’s cooling off outside, it’s also a good time to reboot a daily walking routine.

Fall into step with the season.

Suzanne Havala Hobbs is a registered dietitian and clinical associate professor of health policy and management at UNC-Chapel Hill. Reach her at suzanne@onthetable.net; follow her on Twitter, @suzannehobbs.

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