Summertime is filled with delicious, fresh and healthy foods, but it’s also a time of celebrations, parties and outings. No wonder adults tend to pack on a few (or more) pounds during the hotter months.
“Most people would think it’s easier to eat healthy in summer, but that’s just not true,” says Wayne Vinson, Sales Leader at The Village at Gainesville, a senior living rental community that offers independent living, assisted living and memory support. “Many of our summer celebrations involve high-calorie foods and alcohol, so it’s easy for your diet to take a turn for the worse.”
That doesn’t have to be the case, though. There are many easy ways to eat healthier in the summer without sacrificing taste or enjoyment. Here are some tips and tricks for helping you eat a healthier diet in the summer, whether you’re at home, out at a party or planning a vacation.
- Control your portions.
Healthy eating doesn’t mean you have to cut out all of your favorite summertime foods (we’re looking at you, ice cream and fat, juicy hamburgers off the grill). It just means that you can enjoy everything … in moderation. This is an especially good tip to keep in mind if you’re at a buffet or block party. Smaller portions of everything allow you to eat all the things you enjoy without stuffing yourself (and you can always go back for more if you’re still hungry).
- Enjoy the fruits and vegetables that are in-season.
Produce is at its best during the summer months, with ripe red tomatoes, creamy avocados, sweet corn on the cob, zucchini, berries, melons … they’re everywhere. Now is the perfect time to gorge yourself on nature’s finest and get the benefits that come with them.
- Tomatoes: One cup of raw tomato can give you as much as 20 percent of your daily vitamin A dose and up to 40 percent of your daily vitamin C dose. Add some to your salads and sandwiches, or simply munch on a handful of cherry tomatoes as a snack.
- Avocados: This delicious source of healthy fat is multifunctional and versatile. Add half an avocado to your morning smoothie, use it to top your burger, smear it on a slice of toast or add it to an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salad. You’ll get a good helping of fiber, potassium, folate and antioxidants, among other things.
- Leafy greens: Spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, beet greens and dandelions are all plentiful and in-season during the warmer months. These leaves are filled with iron, protein, antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins A, B and C. Salads are the obvious use of these delicious greens, but you can also toss them into a blender to make a healthy smoothie, top sandwiches or add some bulk to a light summer pasta or soup.
- Bell peppers: Crunchy, sweet and addictive, bell peppers are a colorful and delicious addition to any snack, salad or meal. Not only are they rich in fiber and water, but they also contain carotenoids, which have been shown to help reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases and cardiovascular diseases.
- Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are all filled with vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber and natural sugars, making them the perfect addition to salads and summery desserts. Snack on some to satisfy your sweet tooth, or freeze them and add to your favorite summer beverage.
- Watermelon: Juicy watermelon contains the most lycopene of any produce (yes, even more than tomatoes) and is full of fiber and water, making it a good choice to help stave off dehydration and enjoy a light but sweet treat. Eat it on its own, toss with feta for a summer salad or even dehydrate (with a dehydrator) to make a unique fruit leather snack.
- Ask for a to-go box with your meal.
Even if you watch what you order at a restaurant, you’ll probably find yourself staring at a plate that’s big enough to feed two or three people. Ask your server to bring a to-go box with your meal and immediately box half of it up so you’re not tempted to have “just one more bite.” Not only will you enjoy a delicious meal out, but you’ll also have leftovers to enjoy tomorrow.
- Opt for herbs and seasonings.
When we think of seasoning food, we automatically reach for the salt and pepper shakers. However, most of us eat way too much salt in our everyday diets (and that’s not even counting the hidden sodium in the majority of our foods). Summer is a great time to experiment with fresh herbs and spices when cooking, as well as vinegars for basting and marinating. When using oil for grilling or cooking, choose olive oil (a much healthier option) and use less than you think you’ll need – you’ll be surprised at how little you actually require to add flavor.
- Choose leaner options.
While delicious steaks, sausages and hamburgers are summertime staples, they also are packed with saturated fats and calories. Instead, choose ground turkey burgers, skinless chicken breasts and grilled fish all make for protein-packed and lower-calorie meals. Many of your favorite marinades can be used to help flavor these choice cuts, so you can still enjoy the flavors you love without making huge sacrifices. Instead of going for the traditional fare, choose leaner meats.
- Pile on the (healthy) toppings.
Build a better sandwich or burger with delicious and flavorful (and healthier) options. Whole wheat buns, spicy mustard in place of mayo, loads of vegetables, low- or fat-free cheeses and guacamole all help make food delicious without adding a bunch of calories.
- Watch out for cold treats.
Who doesn’t love a delicious popsicle, a towering ice-cream cone or a frosty malt to cool off and satisfy your sweet tooth? Avoid the guilt and the calories by opting for healthier alternatives. Make your own popsicles with fresh fruits, or opt for sugar-free ice cream or sorbets. Try different things to see what satisfies you. And, of course, it’s always okay to eat the real stuff – just make sure you control your portions and only treat yourself occasionally.
- Stay hydrated.
It’s always important to stay hydrated, no matter what the season, but summer means that you’ll probably end up sweating more than usual, which leads to increased water loss. Carry a water bottle with you so you can sip from it regularly and be sure you’re opting for low- or zero-calorie beverages when you aren’t chugging H20. Bonus: staying hydrated also helps you digest food better and more efficiently!
As you can see, eating healthy can be incredibly easy. So, enjoy your favorite treats, get enough water and make thoughtful choices to enjoy a healthy, happy summer.
A Legacy of Living Well
If you want the very best for your parent or loved one, consider The Village at Gainesville, a senior living rental community that offers independent living, assisted living and memory support. Contact us online or call us at 352-548-3507 to learn more about our variety of residential options.