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6 Tips for Healthy Summer Eating

Posted on June 19, 2024 at 10:29 AM by Iowa Weight Loss Specialists

From backyard cookouts to poolside snacks, eating goes to a whole different level in the summertime. Although you might want to indulge in more treats than usual, you can still balance out your diet with the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables that are available in the warmer months. 

Follow these tips to help you keep your nutritional health needs on track this summer:

 

1. Be mindful of your fruit intake.

It’s true that fruit is good for you. It broadens the range of nutrients in your diet, and it’s much better for you than a sweet, processed snack.

However, you need to keep an eye on the size of your portion of fruit. It’s a good idea to have only one small or medium piece of whole fruit or a ½ cup of fresh or frozen fruit with each meal. The amount of sugar in fruit adds up quickly, especially because it feels so light as you’re eating it. This doesn’t mean you can’t have any fruit at all; just be aware of how much you’re consuming each day.

 

2. Eat locally as often as possible.

Summer brings an abundance of fresh produce, and along with that comes the opportunity to purchase more of it straight from the source. In the summertime, we have the ability to get to know local farmers, seek out farm stands, and learn what produce they have available for sale.

Some grocery stores even offer local produce sections. If you’re not sure, you can always ask the store manager what produce they get locally.  

Keep in mind that what’s available at the farm stand down the road may look different than what you’ll find in the store, but that’s not a bad thing. Small farms may not have the same capabilities as large farmers, so their produce might look a little different, but it doesn’t have the additives that produce from large-scale farms can have. It’s also a greener option since it doesn’t need to be brought in from far away.

Fruit-picking is also a great way to get your kids involved and help them feel proud of what they’re eating.  

 

3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Here are some simple rules to follow when it comes to summer hydration:

  • If you’re outside for longer than 30 minutes, have a big glass of water as soon as you come back inside, even if you aren’t thirsty. (If you’re starting to feel thirsty, you’re probably already dehydrated.)
  • Water, sparkling water, or club soda are the best options. As a general guide, have eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
  • Try squeezing in some lemon or lime to add a little zing without additional calories or sugar.
  • Limit fruit juice, which might taste refreshing but is often loaded with sugar.
  • Limit your alcohol intake, and try to keep the add-ins to a minimum.
    Ask for club soda in cocktails instead of juice, and fresh fruit instead of simple syrup or sugar.
    *Be sure to alternate an alcoholic drink with a glass of water.

 

4. Set some general cookout rules.

Barbecues don’t have to be diet-stressful. It’s about living a healthy lifestyle, rather than sticking to a set, restrictive diet. You won’t feel guilty if you keep everything in balance.

  • Have some grilled or raw veggies alongside your burger instead of potato salad, make your coleslaw with Greek yogurt, or use a vinegar-based sauce instead of mayo.
  • Provide or bring your own healthier options to the cookout, like turkey burgers or plant-based meats, or grill some mushrooms for a “meaty”, earthy meal.
  • Fruit kabobs are great for adults and kids alike because of the built-in portion control; plus, they’re fun to eat.  
  • Remember: Be sure to keep foods at appropriate temperatures when you’re outdoors.
    • Don’t leave meats out too long before cooking them.
    • Put leftovers in the fridge quickly.
    • Potato salad, coleslaw, and other dairy-based foods should also be kept cold and not left out in the hot sun.

 

5. Try not to make food the focus.

Everyone loves a good backyard barbecue, but the actual meal itself doesn’t need to be the star of the show. Often what we come together for is the eating, but the food doesn’t have to be the only focus:

  • Play outdoor games or do outdoor activities.
  • Try to make the day about the walk you’ll take after the meal.
  • If the food is not the focal point, you’ll be less inclined to sit around eating a lot of it.

 

6. Before you travel, check out the local scene.

Having special meals or treats, especially at restaurants, is one of the reasons we look forward to vacations. But a little bit of research beforehand can go a long way in helping you avoid the diet pitfalls that so often crop up when traveling—as well as the guilt that hits when you return home.

  • Most people are able to make a healthy choice if they look at a menu beforehand.
  • Ask someone to share a main dish with you.
  • Order a healthier appetizer, a side salad, or a cold soup to start.
  • Try having a healthy snack like a handful of baby carrots or cherry tomatoes before you go out so you don’t overeat.
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