Summer for families means breaking away from normal routines. For families who eat healthy year-round, this doesn’t mean you have to break your healthy eating habit. For families who don’t normally eat healthy, this is the time to experiment with new recipes and perhaps start a new routine. Here are some tips to keep your family fed in a healthy and nutritious way.
Change your lifestyle rather than trying to diet. Many people strive to lose weight, but they do it in a way that’s not sustainable. Dieting can cause temporary weight loss and short-term results. Healthy eating is a lifestyle that not only helps you look and feel better, but it can also keep you alive longer. Eating healthy should not be just about weight loss. Even people that look thin and in shape should be concerned about what they’re putting into their bodies. You might like the way you look on the outside, but your insides could be telling a different story.
For those who want to lose weight, instead of looking for a quick fix for weight loss, look for a way to cleanse your body of processed foods and eat more whole foods. This means ditching junk food, packaged food and sugary food. Shop the perimeter of the store where the fresh food is, not the dry aisles (unless you’re buying beans or grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole grain pasta). Eat a balance of carbs, fat and protein. Make sure your food is nutritious and full of vitamins and minerals. With healthy eating, you don’t need to restrict food groups or count calories. Switching to a healthy eating lifestyle will make the weight come off.
Avoid snacking, as it’s the easiest way to upend healthy eating habits. It’s tempting to want to munch on a snack between meals, but the habit of snacking can be problematic because it often leads to eating without brakes. Snacking means we eat more unnecessary food throughout the day, especially if we’re already eating full meals. Compared to breakfast, lunch and dinner, snack food is usually unhealthy as well. If you are going to snack in between meals, have your family munch on something healthy like gut-healthy guacamole with probiotic yogurt or sauerkraut.
Practice portion control. Restaurants tend to have larger portions than we actually need. Some restaurant portions contain the total daily amount of calories needed, and that’s only in one meal. When you eat at a restaurant, ask to take half the food in a container so that you’re eating less and saving a meal for later. When you’re at home, you have better control over your portions. It helps to serve your plate and put the rest away in the fridge so you’re not tempted to return to the pan for seconds. You could also serve your food on a smaller plate to make it appear like a fuller meal.
Cooking at home means you have control over what goes in your food—quality as well as quantity. Restaurants add extra sugar, salt, oil and butter into their dishes to make them taste richer. But tasty doesn’t mean that it’s good for you. You can eat healthy food at home that also tastes good by limiting the amount of additives you put in your dishes. Knowing what’s in your food and learning to read labels can make a big difference in how you eat. Sneaky sugars (ingredients ending in “-ose”) tend to be in everything, even foods that don’t taste sweet.
As you embark on the journey to a healthier lifestyle, be sure to keep only healthy food at home. Your fridge should be filled with colorful produce instead of sugary fruit juices. If it’s not there, then your family won’t be tempted to eat it. A family that eats healthy most of the time can afford to cheat with an occasional indulgent treat at picnics or backyard BBQs. Summer can still be fun without being fattening.