Summer is finally here and that means it’s time to heat up the barbeque and get together with friends and family. While many of us are more active during the summer months, we also have a tendency to indulge in the many wining and dining opportunities that come along with long summer days. There are some easy ways that you can enjoy your summer meals but not totally derail your diet.
Tip #1: Enjoy summer produce
One of the best things about summer is the shift from heavier fall and winter foods to the lighter fare that is associated with summer. For lots of people this means wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables. Whether you can’t wait to dive into that first ear of corn on the cob or juicy red strawberries from the farm stand are your personal fave – summer is a time for produce. By filling up on these healthy options you can stay on top of your diet.
Tip #2: Eat this, not that
When it comes to summer picnics and barbeques, one of the best things is how many options you have. While you might be tempted to grab a double helping of grandma’s potato salad, opting for a side of kale salad is probably a better (and equally tasty) choice. The simple step of making a conscious decision can take a potential pitfall meal and turn it into a healthy feast.
Tip #3: Keep drinks on the lighter side
It can sometimes surprise you the amount of calories and sugar in some of our favorite summer drinks. Even when you watch what you eat, you might be sidelining your health goals by what you choose to drink. Opt for lighter beverages and you can stay hydrated and healthy.
Tip #4: Stay hydrated
Speaking of hydration – this is a very important part of summer eating. While hydration is technically a matter of drinking not eating it’s too important to leave out. The National Institute of Medicine tells us that men need around 13 cups of fluids a day and women need about 9. Keep in mind that fluids can be in the form of either water and other beverages, as well as fluid-rich foods, like fruit and veggies.
Tip #5: Grilling saves calories
When it comes to cooking proteins, summer grilling is a great way to add flavor without adding a lot of extra calories. During the winter months, many of our protein choices end up in a calorie-laden sauce, a rich casserole or smothered in something full of fat and calories. By marinating your protein in a light dressing and throwing it on the grill, you can add tons of flavor and almost not extra fat, calories or sugars. We’ll save the gas versus charcoal debate for another day.
Tip #6: Keep fresh foods handy
One helpful way to stay on top of healthy eating is to have healthy foods available. A big shopping trip to the local farm stand can fill your fridge with all of the summer fruits and veggies your heart desires. But to up your summer eating game even more, prep your fresh produce and it will be ready when you are. Imagine you are starving from an afternoon on the go. You open the fridge and need something quick and easy to tide you over until dinner. The thought of washing and cutting your favorite fruit might suddenly seem like a giant chore. But what if you had washed, cut and stored your summer faves when you got home from the market. It requires a few minutes after you are done shopping but it pays off in the long run.
Tip #7: Take it on the road
Another fun way to change your summer dining routine is to dine al fresco whenever possible. Some nutritional experts have sited that packing up a picnic lunch often allows us to eat healthier. For those fun excursions we tend to pack lighter, healthier fare. So if you have the chance to pack up lunch or dinner and take it to your favorite outdoor spot, do it!
Tip #8: Some of the best summer desserts are the light ones
No barbeque is complete without something sweet at the end. While cheesecake and chocolate cake are delicious, angelhood cake with fresh berries or a sweet sorbet can be just as tasty. When it comes to dessert, don’t let rich, heavy sweets derail you. Instead opt for something light and flavorful.
Tip #9: Bring your favorite healthy dish
Many summer picnics and BBQ’s are potlucks. Each guest is asked to bring a dish to contribute to the feast. If this is the case make a big dish of your very favorite healthy food. This will ensure that at least one delicious health conscious dish is on hand.
Tip #10: After you’re done, go for a walk
One of the best tips of all, no matter what food choices you make, is to end the day with some exercise. Whether you go for a nice evening stroll or you challenge the kids to a game of volleyball, get your heart pumping and your metabolism revving.
By following these simple guidelines you can do summer right. Just because you want to eat on the lighter side doesn’t mean that you have to skimp on taste. There are plenty of healthy and delicious options for summer fare.
But to up your summer eating game even more, prep your fresh produce and it will be ready when you are.