Summertime, and the eating is easy! When the days grow longer and the temperature rises, we know that summer’s here. It’s the season of backyard barbecues, beach vacations and lounging by the pool. And it’s just too easy to overindulge in food that can derail an otherwise healthy diet. So, how can you and your family enjoy summer meals and snacks without chowing down on artery-clogging cuisine? Read on to find out how!
Load up on Salads
Salad is a smart choice. Perfect for scorching summer days, salads comprised of crisp, fresh vegetables are healthy and refreshing. According to Foodal.com, “Leafy greens and raw veggies are a superb source of natural fiber.” Eating fiber-rich foods helps you lower cholesterol and control blood sugar. It aids in weight loss and weight maintenance. When you eat salad on a regular basis, you enjoy lower blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease and cancer.
Munch on Fruit
Don’t forget fruit! Incorporate foods like berries and watermelon into your summer recipes. According to DailyHealthWire.com, “All berries are high in antioxidants, fiber and vitamin C.” Whether you nosh on blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or cherries, they’re an excellent source of nutrition. And they taste yummy too! Use them to make a refreshing smoothie for breakfast or a sensible snack. Watermelon, apples, bananas, peaches, plums, nectarines and pineapple are also perfect for a hot summer day.
Get Lean with Lean Meats
You can still enjoy meat at your backyard barbecue. Just make sure you’re eating lean meats like fish and skinless chicken. You can even eat red meat as long as you trim off the fat. Lean meats are a good source of protein and boast fewer calories than fattier cuts. Buy organic meat free from antibiotics to take further steps to protect your health.
Don’t Drink Your Calories
That ice-cold soda may be calling your name, but don’t listen! Sugar-laden soft drinks provide you with empty calories that can do a number on your waistline. People who drink diet sodas gain more weight than those who don’t guzzle the artificially-sugared stuff. In fact, drinking diet sodas can make you crave sweet, high-calorie foods. Instead, reach for seltzer water, coconut water, fruit-infused water and fruity iced tea. They’ll provide you with thirst-quenching benefits that will keep you healthy and happy.
Let Them Eat Cake...or Not?
So, what about desserts? What about that hot apple pie at the church picnic or those moist brownies your aunt brought to the annual family reunion? Time.com reports that “even if you’re an exercise fiend, sugary dessert calories are still ‘empty’ calories—meaning they’re not doing your health any favors even if they’re not hurting you.” But that doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself. That will only make you crave desserts even more.
Instead, practice portion control. Forget about eating that huge wedge of cake. Don’t scarf down six or seven cookies. Instead, eat a small piece of cake or just one cookie. Try to eat sensibly the majority of the day. If possible, bake your own desserts. That way, you control the ingredients inside them. Reducing the amount of sugar or throwing in more nuts can make a seemingly decadent dessert with just a fraction of the calories store-bought versions possess.
Mental Health Benefits of Eating Healthy
Eating healthy foods positively affects your mental health. According to MentalHealth.org, “Food plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems, such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease.” In other words, eating healthy foods plays a role in the prevention of a variety of mental health issues. Eating iron-rich foods like broccoli and meat boosts your mood, while consuming too much caffeine, sugar, white grains and alcohol can lead to a deterioration in your mental health.
Summer vacation doesn’t have to be synonymous with eating food that’s bad for you. Eating salads packed with healthy veggies, noshing on refreshing fruit, choosing lean meats and practicing portion control when eating sweets will help you stick to a healthy diet while still enjoying the sizzling days of summer.