Your health: 10 things to do in May

Go biking, feast on artichokes and more ways to boost your health this month.

Things to do for your health: 6-10

6. Buy new dishes
Had your eye on a gorgeous set of crockery that will coordinate just so with your dining room draperies? Go ahead and splurge – with one caveat. Skip the oversize dinner plates and soup bowls and stock up on smaller dishes. You'll help prevent the mindless eating that is a proven result of eating from large plates and bowls. "As the size of our dishes increases, so does the amount we scoop onto them," explains Brain Wansink, author of Mindless Eating (Bantam, 2006). In one of his studies, for instance, Wansink noted that "people with a large bowl and a three-ounce scoop dished out 57 per cent more ice cream than those given a smaller bowl and smaller scoop."

7. Cook up some rhubarb
Once you've polished off the artichokes you had for dinner, feast on rhubarb for dessert. It's got decent amounts of fibre, potassium and calcium, it tastes divine and if you find a kindly neighbour with an overgrown rhubarb patch (that's assuming you don't have your own), you'll have enough for a new dessert every night. Try one of the recipes below, or check out our collection of rhubarb recipes for more ideas.

Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet
Rhubarb Strudel
Rustic Rhubarb Tart

8. Bake a batch of muffins
It's three o'clock, your tummy's starting to growl and there's nothing to eat but the candy bars and chips in the vending machine down the hall. No wonder you can't resist the junk food. But rather than succumbing to the convenience trap every afternoon, fight back by planning ahead and making sure you always have something with you to feed your midafternoon hunger. While muffins may be the wolf in sheep's clothing at the bakery (they're often so high in fat and calories you might as well pick up a pastry), when you make them at home, you can make them as healthy – and tasty – as you like. Here are a few healthier suggestions:

Carrot Raisin Muffins
Apple Oat Muffins
Cranberry Flax Muffins

9. Eat more organics
Few topics have been more hotly debated in nutrition circles than whether organic foods are better for your body (the fact that they're better for the planet as a whole is a lot less under dispute). But a number of studies have shown that organic produce is better for you. For instance:

• Researchers at Newcastle University in the U.K. showed that rats fed an organic diet were healthier than those who didn't.
• A study published in the magazine Chemistry & Industry found that organically grown kiwifruit contained higher levels of polyphenols, antioxidants and nutrients such as vitamin C than their conventionally grown counterparts.
• Research from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that fruits and veggies grown organically contain more antioxidants.

Even if you can't buy organic food all the time, consider increasing its presence in your shopping cart, especially for those fruits and veggies considered to contain the highest levels of pesticide residues: Pearson and Smith list apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach and strawberries as prime culprits.

10. Buy yourself flowers
Nothing brightens up your home – and your mood – like a fresh bouquet of flowers. Need an excuse to splurge? Dr. Ni cites one study that showed that "people who sat near a bouquet of colourful flowers were able to relax better during a five-minute typing assignment than those who sat near a foliage-only plant." So next time you're feeling stressed, pick up a bunch of your favourite flowers – just remember to place them somewhere you'll enjoy them.

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