Whether you’re a traditional spring cleaner or not, help set lifetime habits for lower cancer risk and boost your family’s health now with these easy "spring refresh" healthy hacks. Forget the quick-fix diets that don’t last and unrealistic goals for healthier eating that lead to just giving up. Studies in cafeterias and supermarkets show that you can shift food and drink choices by making healthy food more appealing, more visible and easier to access. You can easily use these same strategies at home.
The first food you see when you walk into the kitchen should count for overall health and a cancer-protective diet! Entice kids and adults with a beautiful plate of colorful, ready to eat fruit like apples, grapes and strawberries on the counter. Or set out a bowl of whole-grain rolls and a jar of peanut (or other nut) butter for a healthy substantial snack.
Making these convenient, tasty and easy-to-grab snacks more visible makes healthy eating a natural choice. This is a powerful message that can help shape your child’s food and health decisions for years to come.
How often do you open the fridge looking for a snack inspiration? Exploit this common habit to promote delicious and refreshing healthy options. Place these at the front of each shelf so they’re the first – and easiest – items to pick up.
• Stock the beverage shelf with still and sparkling fruit or herb-infused waters, reduced-fat milk and unsweetened teas. Eliminate regular sodas and other sugary drinks from the fridge – or better still the whole house. These drinks are linked to weight gain and having overweight and obesity - risk factors for many cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Make them scarce at home to help family members get to and maintain a healthy weight.
• Put a tray with baby carrots, pepper slices or jicama and hummus up front. These can help satisfy the urge for a crunchy, refreshing snack and add to a powerful cancer-protective diet with plenty of plant foods like vegetables and fruits.
• For more substantial protein snacks, have low-sugar yogurts, hard-boiled eggs, string cheese or bean dip ready to eat.
Your cupboard snacks can promote more plant-based choices, like whole-grain crackers, oatmeal, and popcorn. These are great options to help boost your intake of cancer-fighting whole grains, linked to lower risk of colorectal cancer. Nuts and juice-packed canned fruit are also easy, attractive snacks as healthful, less-processed foods. Do you keep chips, cookies and other highly processed foods with added sugar and fat in your house? If so, limit the amount and put them up high and in back of the cupboard where they are hard to see and reach.
Here is where frozen fruit chunks, berries and frozen greens can be starters for a quick and refreshing smoothie. In the summer AICR’s Berry Yogurt Popsicles or fruity ice cubes offer a quick way to cool down. You can keep whole-grain bread or pitas frozen so they’re ready to be used anytime for a sandwich snack.
You can create a kitchen that promotes health with easy-to-access, delicious and attractive foods. Take advantage of whole foods like fruit and nuts, and choose healthful convenience foods to enhance snack options. Check out AICR Healthy Recipes for more delicious ideas.