Summer Lovin’: How to Eat Healthy Under the Sun

You can still have yourself a blast this summer, and keep to a healthy diet. Although you might find yourself tempted by the heavy food choices found at many cookouts, picnics and waterside vendors, know that healthy options also abound this time of year. In fact, nothing says summer like fresh fruits and vegetables. The great thing is fresh produce, warm-weather salads and cold beverages can not only be healthy but delicious too.

Here are some ways to eat healthy from Memorial Day to Labor Day without tipping the scale or risking nutritional value.

Pile On the Color

When you fill your plate with colorful vegetables, you are adding wonderful vitamins and minerals to you plate, not to mention a beautiful pop of color. Next time you’re cooking fish, meat or poultry, sauté some colorful peppers, onion, garlic and tomatoes to serve as the topping. Not only will your dish be packed with flavor, but you will boost your portion size without gaining too many extra calories. Try turning your hamburger into a low-carb burger by swapping out the bun for lettuce. You can add more vegetables by adding up to ¼th of an avocado between the bread. Avocados provide many essential vitamins and nutrients, including healthy omega-3s, potassium, vitamin E and B vitamins.

Avoid Overdoing It around the Grill

Beat the temptation to overeat at the family barbeque by filling up on the healthy stuff first. Fill your plate with fruit and green salads, and reach for raw vegetables over chips. If you treat yourself to a small dessert, remember it’s a special occasion and that’s okay.. Just be aware of the portion size and keep it reasonable. The key is moderation and recognizing when you’re full.

Once you finish the meal, get moving. Play hide and seek with the kids or get everyone together for a game of volleyball, Frisbee or basketball. When you move away from the table, you’ll find that you will be less tempted to keep eating.

Get the Most Out of Your Greens

Not all salads are created equal. Salads loaded with creamy dressings, cheese, croutons, bacon bits, and fried chicken are also loaded with calories and fat. Did you know a salad can have more calories than a cheeseburger if it is loaded with unhealthy foods? Healthy salads don’t have to be boring. Make an epic power salad with lots of leafy greens and different vegetables to get more disease-fighting nutrients and fewer fat and carbs. Top it off with a lean protein like grilled chicken, fish or beans for additional value. Try using the fork-dip method when eating salads, use up to 2 tbsp of low-fat dressing on the side and dip your fork in the dressing first before putting it in the greens. This way your salad is not totally drenched in dressing, but every bite has flavor!

Reach for a Drink Such as Watermelon

Yes, you read that right! You don’t have to drink water to stay hydrated this summer. In addition to delivering skin-protecting lycopene, watermelon is 92 percent water (hence the name). Research has also shown that eating foods that are full of water help keep you satisfied on fewer calories.

If watermelon isn’t your thing, a tall glass of unsweetened iced tea on a hot day can be very refreshing—and good for your body. If you drink tea regularly, you may lower your risk of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease as well as protect your bones. How? Tea is rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids. It’s best to drink it freshly brewed to maximize the power of the flavonoids, regardless of the variety: black, green, oolong, white or herbal. Try adding fresh fruit to your tea for added flavor, instead of adding sugar.

Don’t Forget the (Other) Fruits

You now know the value of watermelon, but there are other summer fruits that can be just as beneficial. The compounds in tart cherries are thought to promote weight loss. The anthocyanins in this flavorful fruit activate a molecule that helps rev up fat burning and decrease fat storage. A half cup of cherries are also a great snack, because while removing the seed, it takes longer to eat and reduces the risk of mindless eating.

Raspberries are a great source of fiber, and a study in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that eating more fiber may help prevent weight gain or even promote weight loss. Over the course of a two-year study, researchers found that when study participants boosted their fiber by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories, they lost about 4 1/2 pounds.

Cook at Home

Not only will you save money by eating at home, but you will know exactly what goes into your dishes. Plus, cooking at home is generally healthier, especially if you use some of the above tips for summer eating. Another tip when going to a BBQ is to offer to bring a dish that you know is healthy, that way you have an option to fall back on and others will also enjoy it too. Remember, even small changes to your diet can have a positive impact on your health and help you meet your weight loss goals under the sun.

The skilled staff at Lee Bariatrics provides nutrition guidance and weight loss support to meet your unique goals for a healthier lifestyle. Give us a call at 1-888-715-4330.

Learn more about healthier eating in these blog posts:

How to Make Easter (and Everyday) Eating Healthier
6 Healthy Holiday Eating Strategies
What Is Sabotaging Your Weight Loss?

The above is for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the medical guidance from and discussion with your physician.