Spring into wellness with simple, dietitian-approved steps fueled by potatoes

(BPT) - The change of seasons is a cue for more than just cleaning your home. Spring — nature's time of renewal — is also a great time to refocus on self-care.

With the additional stresses of the ongoing pandemic, self-care has never been more important. However, life can be busy and too often one of the first things to go is your personal wellness routine. Now is the ideal time to shift your mindset, explore positive routine updates and revamp eating habits with wholesome foods such as potatoes you truly enjoy.

Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, LD, is an intuitive eating and non-diet registered dietitian and a nationally recognized food and nutrition expert who believes that a self-care routine should be centered around activities and foods you enjoy. She offers these tips to help guide you as you spring clean your self-care routine.

Explore accessible, enjoyable ways to exercise

Moving your body is important, but this doesn't require an expensive gym membership or fitness equipment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, which can be broken up however you prefer. Maybe that's about 10 minutes every day in the morning and afternoon or 30 minutes for five days a week.

“Exercise is important for physical, mental and emotional health. Take advantage of the warmer weather by scheduling a short walk into your day. Even 15 minutes gives your brain and body a boost," said Harbstreet.

Want to try something new? Look online for free exercise videos so you can sample a new activity from the comfort and safety of your home. From yoga and stretching to dancing and strength training, there are so many free resources online thanks to technology.

No matter if you’re walking or gearing up for an at-home or gym workout, be sure to fuel up and recover with a pre- or post-exercise meal or snack. Harbstreet says her go-to food when she needs to refocus her routine or fuel her self-care is often potatoes. “Potatoes are a nutrient-dense vegetable offering 26 grams of good carbs for energy, potassium (they’re a good source, providing 15% of the daily value and more than a medium-sized banana) and vitamin C (they’re an excellent source, providing 30% of the daily value) that you need to fuel your day and set you up for success. They also offer 3 grams of plant-based protein,” Harbstreet added.

Take a fresh approach to snacking

Snacking isn't a bad thing. In fact, if you're hungry, it's your body trying to communicate with you. What you choose is what makes a difference, but that doesn't mean you're stuck with foods you dislike.

“Be sure to listen to your hunger cues and eat snacks you actually enjoy. Snacks can also serve a functional purpose in fueling your brain and energizing your body with nutrients," Harbstreet said.

For example, potatoes are a nutrient-dense vegetable that’s built for tasty snacking. Creating snacks with potatoes is a simple step you can take to shake up your snacking routine.

Try easy, simple, homemade snacks, such as roasted petite yellow potatoes: perfect portable fuel for a hike or a bike ride. Or make Russet potato toast with guacamole or hummus for added nutrition. For more ideas, visit PotatoGoodness.com.

Organize your home and your calendar

Research has found a cluttered home contributes to stress and anxiety. As you spring clean the visible spaces in your home, don't forget to open drawers, update closets and go through your pantry. If these tasks seem daunting, choose one to do a day and slowly but surely make your way through the to-do list so you can feel your best.

“Spring cleaning applies to your closet and your pantry. Take stock of what you have, donate what you don’t need and make a grocery list full of shelf-stable, nutrient-dense staples to have on hand as you refocus on self-care. Potatoes are a great option because they last — and they’re nutritious, affordable and extremely versatile. I always keep a bag in my pantry. Remember, all forms of fruits and vegetables count toward total daily servings, including fresh, frozen and canned, so stock up to simplify meal prep while enjoying great taste and nutrition."

In addition to cleaning and taking inventory in your home, consider home management, too. Whether it's a calendar on the wall or a digital app, make changes to relieve stress and streamline your routine. Additionally, always add in time for you. Whether that's a break from work to take a walk, time after dinner for a hobby, or space before bed to read and meditate, putting something on the calendar makes it a priority and you're more likely to stick to your preferred self-care activities.

“Overall, make sure you are prioritizing YOU on your to-do list,” said Harbstreet. “Whether you need energy for spring cleaning and organization, or a new exercise routine, potatoes are a nutrient-dense vegetable that have the energy, potassium and vitamin C you need to fuel your body and your brain!”

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