As the days get longer, we think about firing up the grill and gathering with friends to enjoy all the great food available during the summer season. Don’t let grazing on big spreads get out of hand. Instead, follow these simple tips to eat healthier this summer:
Reach for the vegetables. Try adding avocado to your sandwich, wrap or taco. Or, the next time you’re cooking fish, meat or poultry, saut. peppers, onion, garlic and tomatoes to serve as a topping. Choose raw vegetables over chips. (Just remember to take it easy on the dip!)
Pay attention to portions. Your clenched fist is a close measure of one cup of food, which you can use when dishing up a helping of potato or pasta salads. And, your thumb is a close measure to one tablespoon, which you can use for dressings or spreads to help your calorie counting. (Dressings usually have around 50-100 calories per tablespoon.) Eating in moderation and recognizing when you’re full are also key to maintaining a healthy weight.
Get the most out of your salad. Not all salads are healthy, especially when you eat out. Salads loaded with dressing, cheese or fried meat are also loaded with calories and fat. The good news is healthy salads don’t have to be boring. You can pick salads with a lot of different vegetables for more disease-fighting nutrients. Or, top salads off with a lean protein like grilled chicken, fish or beans.
Don’t overdo it at summer BBQs. Resist the temptation to overeat by filling up your plate with healthy foods first, including fruits and green salads. Once you’ve finished, get moving! Play with the kids or get everyone together for a game of volleyball, basketball or tag.
Cook at home. There are a lot of benefits to eating at home. Not only will you save money, but you’ll know exactly what goes into your meal. Research shows that people who eat home-cooked meals on a regular basis consume less sugar and processed foods, which can result in higher energy levels and better mental health.
Don’t forget the fruit! Summer is a great time for fresh fruit. Add your favorite berries to your morning cereal, oatmeal or salad. Keep a bowl of apples, oranges and bananas on the table. Choose watermelon or cherries for dessert instead of cookies or ice cream.