Learn a healthy way to lose weight without going hungry.

Spring is here, meaning it’s time to clean the house, dust off the winter blues and focus on getting back in shape. But how do you manage to lose weight without feeling hungry? Simply remember the motto “go green to stay lean.” Filling your plate with lots of low-calorie plant-based foods will help make losing weight easier. With spring’s culinary focus on plants, now is the perfect time to consider moving over to a flexitarian lifestyle — proven to promote good health and weight control.

With a few simple substitutions in the kitchen, you can change over to a leaner, greener life without sacrificing one ounce of good taste. Here are five steps to a greener, leaner you:

1. More plants

One of the core science-based truths that is clearly emerging: more plants equals a longer, healthier life. Try to incorporate four vegetables and three fruit servings daily; boost that number even higher to go a deeper shade of green. For example, leafy spring greens such as kale, chard and spinach contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals. These greens are loaded with calcium, dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, along with a nice dose of antioxidant plant chemicals such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. These high-fiber foods help fill you up, not out. At just 10 – 25 calories per cup, dig into spring and get your beach bodies ready.

2. Choose plant protein, often

Switch to a far leaner but still delicious vegetable protein source whenever possible. Try to include a lean protein in every meal because protein is very filling. Choose such lean and green proteins as beans, some nuts, seeds, and try to limit beef, pork and lamb. Also remember processed meats have been linked to heart disease.

3. Go fish

The American Heart Association recommends that for good heart health, we should consume at least two servings of fish heavy in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids every week. Salmon is always an excellent choice, as it is rich in omega-3 and low in mercury. Most seafood is considered a healthful lean protein, low in saturated fat and high in the vital nutrients we need, such as omega-3 fat, vitamin D and selenium. Enjoy a variety of seafood for optimal health but be sure to check out the greener, sustainably harvested catches.

4. Eat fresh and whole

Try to include more food in its natural state. For example, eat an apple rather than apple juice, a baked potato instead of potato chips. Try to include something fresh and whole at each meal, such as fresh berries or melon with breakfast, a handful of raw almonds or walnuts for a snack, a sliced avocado on your sandwich, and a large, dark-green salad served alongside dinner.

5. Eat dark leafy greens

Dark, leafy greens are loaded with antioxidants. Choose organic whenever possible as spinach and lettuce have the highest pesticide residues, according to the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org). Antioxidants help squelch damaging, disease-causing free radicals. One of my favorites is arugula. Of all the salad greens, arugula is probably one of the most nutritious. Packed with disease- fighting phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, the benefits of arugula are nothing short of extraordinary. Arugula is a member of the potent cancer-fighting Cruciferous family of vegetables that also includes broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts and bok choy. With its slightly peppery, mustard-like flavor, it can truly spruce up any meal. For very few calories, you also get a large amount of vitamins A, C, K, and the minerals calcium and iron. What’s more, arugula contains beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. These are carotenoids, or plant pigments, which function in the prevention of diseases like cancer and macular degeneration.

I urge all of you to start eating green today for your health and the health of the planet. Going greener can help you lose weight, sleep better, eat more sustainably and live life to the fullest.

Try Dr. Janet’s Grilled Asparagus recipe.

Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN, is a nationally recognized expert in the field of health, wellness and cardiovascular disease prevention. She holds master’s degrees in both nutrition and exercise physiology and a doctorate in exercise physiology. Dr. Brill has published three books: Cholesterol Down, Blood Pressure Down and Prevent a Second Heart Attack. Along with her numerous media appearances, Dr. Brill has been a corporate nutrition consultant for American Express and Proctor & Gamble. Learn more about Dr. Brill at DrJanet.com.