Good weather and summer celebrations are around the corner – and so are the hefty barbecues and beach party treats. Thankfully, hot days don’t have to mean hot dogs. Whether you want to stay on track with your healthy diet or you need a total diet overhaul, these tips on how to eat healthy and still enjoy your summer are the perfect guide for you. Plus, we break it down for those that are busy and on-the-go to those that don’t want to cook and are traveling.
How to Eat Healthy at Home
Eating healthy at home in summer should be easy, right?
The truth is, eating at home can be a challenge, especially if you have a busy family, work from home, or don’t love to cook. These situations lend themselves to convenience foods like microwavable dinners and processed snacks.
Yes, we are in full control of the foods we keep in our home, but that doesn’t mean we can always control our schedules or ability to make something healthy. By following these tips, making healthy choices at home is easier.
Good habits start in the grocery store. When shopping, try to focus on as many whole foods as possible. The fewer ingredients an item has, the better. If you do opt for something packaged or processed, making sure you can pronounce all of the ingredients on the label is a simple way to stick closer to nature.
Stock up and prepare healthy snacks ahead.
When you fill your fridge and cabinet with healthy snacks, you’ll be safe to nibble guilt-free. Avoid processed foods and instead, try making fresh foods snack-style. It takes just minutes to prep fruits and veggies into bite-size slices that you can keep in the fridge for when you’re feeling peckish.
Light up the grill.
Grilling and barbecuing can be healthy when you cook with the right ingredients. Swap the processed hotdogs and hamburgers for delicious (yet healthier) recipes that use grilled fish, chicken, and veggies.
How to Eat Healthy on the Road
Summer vacation calling your name? You don’t have to leave healthy eating at home. Here are some simple ways to eat well on the go.
Avoid fast food stops.
Long summer road trips often include a stop or two at your roadside burger joint. Many years ago this might have been the only option to fuel up. But these days, there are plenty of ways to get a healthy meal on the road. The best way to avoid all that damaging salt, fat, and sugar is by prepping your own snacks and on-the-go meals. Pre-cut fruits and vegetables, nut mixes, and homemade wraps can hold you over until you get home or can find a restaurant with healthy options.
Whether you’re traveling this summer or just enjoying meals locally with family and friends, knowing how to order healthy at a restaurant is essential for eating well this summer. First of all, avoid sweet drinks like fancy cocktails or sodas. These are full of sugar and often pack in more calories than your meal! Instead, choose wine or enjoy sparkling water with lemon or mint.
For your main dish, go for options that are steamed, grilled, or broiled to steer clear of the excess saturated fats and salt that come with fried or sauteed dishes. If there’s an indulgent dish you love and want to make a special occasion of it, why not share it with your partner or a friend and round out the meal with a healthier salad or side dish?
How to Eat Healthy on a Budget
Eating healthy with consistently rising prices can be difficult for those who are on a budget. However, it can be done, and here’s how.
Focus on summer produce.
Summer is one of the best times to shop and cook on a budget. Hello, fresh watermelon! There are so many fruits and vegetables that are in season, which means better deals and tastier food! It’s also smart to shop local – that means heading to the small local grocery stores, farm stands, and local co-ops in your area. They might not have the big box store discount prices, but the quality (and nutritive value of the produce) is much higher. In the end, you’ll get more bang for your buck, support your local community, and enjoy healthier, more delicious foods.
Celebrate budget foods.
Entire civilizations have thrived on some of the most budget-friendly foods you can find in the stores today. Think rice, oats, lentils, beans, and other whole grains, onions, potatoes, and squashes. Instead of forgetting about these dried goods in the back of the pantry, make these the start of your dishes! Oftentimes, adding some herbs, spices, and fresh produce is all you need to create a beautiful budget meal. Beans in particular are extremely budget-friendly and full of protein and fiber. Choose dried beans and get in the habit of soaking them overnight to save tons of money over canned beans.
Don’t shy away from frozen fruits and vegetables. They are just as good as the fresh produce, and sometimes even better! The great thing about frozen fruits and vegetables is that they are almost always cheaper than their alternatives, prices stay stable year-round, and you’ll never have to worry about them going bad before you could finish them.
How to Eat Healthy Without Cooking
So, you don’t like to cook. Or maybe you do, but after a long day of work or school or watching the kids, you simply don’t have the time and energy to whip up a big meal. Fair enough! Many people want to eat healthily but aren’t able to cook for themselves. Luckily, healthy meals don’t have to be time-consuming.
Opt for semi-homemade or done-for-you.
These days, many grocery stores offer prepared meals that are just as good as homemade but take you a fraction of the time to make. You can also make a delicious meal with a few simple and ready-made ingredients. For instance, a Mediterranean platter comes together nicely and with little to no prep: enjoy store-bought hummus, pita bread, olives, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, feta chunks, and cucumber slices.
Meal-prep and batch-cook.
Meal prepping once a week and freezing meals is a simple way to have quick access to a good healthy meal without cooking it from scratch every time. Cooking a week’s worth of food at once may seem like it’s more work, but it saves tons of time, energy, and clean-up time. New to meal prepping? Don’t worry. Meal-prepping has become so popular that there are needless resources, supplies, and healthy meal-prep recipe blogs dedicated to making cooking at home more efficient for you.
Subscribe to a healthy meal kit service.
Some people think they don’t like cooking, but what they really don’t like is the time and energy it takes to come up with ideas, shop, prepare, cook, and clean up. With a meal kit delivery service, 90% of that stress that comes with cooking is eliminated! You might even find that when you have a little built-in guidance, you can actually enjoy the fun and relaxing aspects of cooking.
Many of these meal delivery services have healthy, low-salt, gluten-free, low-carb, or vegetarian options so you can maintain your chosen healthy diet (and feel good about digging into whatever shows up at your door!).
How to Eat Healthy When You Don’t Like Vegetables
Vegetables are a great source of fiber and nutrients and are essential to a healthy diet. But how can you get all their benefits if you don’t like them?
Try something new.
There are hundreds of different types of veggies out there. Don’t assume you don’t like any of them. You don’t need to love all vegetables right away, you just need to find a few “gateway” veggies. Get used to the textures, flavors, colors, and versatility of a few vegetables, and it will open your palate to trying (and liking) the others. Make eating vegetables fun by challenging yourself to try a new one each week. Pick out what looks good in the grocery and search for a recipe that features it. If you can’t find anything new in your local supermarket, shop at international grocers or farmer’s markets to find something unique.
Switch up your cooking methods.
Sometimes it’s not what vegetables you’re eating, but how you eat them. For example, if you’re not a fan of steamed broccoli, you might find that it’s much more enjoyable when mashed or roasted.
Add healthy flavor.
If you want to eat more veggies, make spices, marinades, and dips your new best friends. These can be made at home or easily found in most grocery stores. If shopping for pre-made marinades and blends, be sure to read the labels and choose options that are made with quality ingredients and have no added sugar, salt, or unhealthy oils. The added bonus of cooking with flavor is that these herbs and spices are packed with tons of health benefits that make your dishes all the more nutritious.
How to Eat Healthy When You’ve Got a Picky Eaters
Have a picky eater at the family table? Summer is the perfect time to make trying new things fun.
Play the rainbow game.
Gamification has been used to help people lose weight, save money, learn languages, meditate, and more. Why not try it with your picky eaters, too? If you struggle to get little ones to eat their healthy foods, set up a game. Each week, challenge them to eat a full serving of a fruit or vegetable (or other healthy food of choice) in each color of the rainbow. Offer a fun activity-based reward if they complete their challenge (like a trip to the park or pool). They’ll get the thrill of accomplishment and get used to eating healthy foods at the same time.
Limit salt and sugary foods as much as possible.
Let’s face it – most people wouldn’t choose an apple over a donut, no matter how old they are. Salty and sugary foods are addictive, which means the more we eat them, the more we crave them. And the more we eat foods high in sugar, the less we enjoy the natural flavors of healthy foods.
The simple way to overcome this is to limit treats. It can be hard at first, but over time your picky eaters will start to taste the delicious flavors that fruits, veggies, herbs, spices, and other healthy choices offer.
To start, make yummy swaps that are picky-eater-approved. Banana “ice cream” is a crowd-pleasing dessert swap, and baked sesame-crusted chicken tenders are a great alternative to the classic fried favorite.
Give veggies an undercover mission.
An easy way to work more veggies into your diet when you or a loved one is not a vegetable fan is to simply hide them. Cut them into tiny pieces, shred them, or puree them. Then, add them to dishes you already enjoy.
Many veggies blend seamlessly into soups, stews, chilis, dips, sauces, pasta dishes, ground meats, smoothies, and even baked goods. Get creative until you find something that works for your family. Try these recipes to get started:
- Hidden Vegetable Beef Burgers
- Healthy Chocolate Muffins with Veggies
- Hidden Vegetable Spaghetti Sauce
Eat Healthy with AlignLife
You can enjoy all the barbecues, pool parties, and summer vacations your heart desires without setting yourself up for a heart attack. Just follow these tips and enjoy testing and tasting this summer’s abundance of delicious, good-for-you foods!
If you’re looking for a more personalized approach to your summer wellness plans, reach out to your local AlignLife Chiropractor. They will help you eat well this summer by first identifying your nutritional gaps, then setting you up for success with a diet plan fit for your unique needs. Get started today!