Family picnics encourage healthy eating

Hot summer months are a great time to stay committed to a healthy lifestyle. Who wants heavy meals along with rising temperatures? Instead, fill your refrigerators and coolers with the right drinks, fruits and veggies. There are lots of ways to eat healthy during the summer.

Yes, these are months filled with barbecues, pool parties and picnics. Thanks to a ready supply of ice cream, chips and soda, losing sight of good eating is easy for kids. Let’s make it a family priority to have fun and eat healthy at the same time. Here’s how:

Make great choices

Salads – Visit your local grocery store for in-season leaves, greens and herbs. Toss them in a salad bowl with locally sourced veggies and click here for a yummy yogurt dressing to put on top. This makes a great summer salad with plenty of nutrition.

Green leafy vegetables and dark berries – Local farms supply these calcium, magnesium and folate-rich foods. In addition to keeping your heart healthy, they get blood pumping for the extra activity summer brings.

Watermelon – It’s named this way for a reason. With over 90% water, this tasty summer fruit keeps you hydrated and aids in healthy digestion.

Iced coffee or tea – As a rule, caffeine can be a great boost on lazy summer mornings. But go easy on the sweeteners. You can even use trips away from home to try something new. For example, coconut milk has more calcium and less sugar than more traditional creamers.

Grilled fish, veggies and meat-substitutes – Grilling is a great alternative to cooking on the stove or in the oven. For instance, grilling adds flavor without extra calories. Low in fat but high in nutrients, choose salmon, squash, onions and plant-based protein choices. Healthy marinades and light dressings add even more delicious tastes to your meal. 

Warning: Avoid

  • Carbonated soda.
  • Lemonade or iced tea filled with sugar or chemical substitute sweeteners.
  • Cut and peeled fruits, raw vegetables and meat from roadside stands. They attract disease-carrying insects.
  • Fatty, greasy food like hamburgers and potato chips. They weigh you down and sometimes lead to nausea on hot days.

Other healthy eating and drinking tips

Drink plenty of water. Sweating more than usual reduces energy levels – and plenty of that goes on in summertime. It also depletes the body of important electrolytes. Water is the best way to replace fluids lost this way. (Substitutes include lemon juice, coconut water, and fresh fruit juices without added sugar.)

Premade meals make everything easier. Pick one day a week to prepare food and package it. Then you’re done the rest of the week. If single portions of healthy options are available to grab and go, we are far less likely to eat compulsively. As a result, this makes every meal a healthier one.

Eat outdoors! Pack a picnic lunch, of any kind. Eat some meals on the front porch periodically. Eating outside with fresh air and sunshine leads to healthier choices. Lean sandwiches, summer greens, grapes, crackers and cheese, plus bottled water make for a delicious meal outside.

Alcohol in moderation. Summer cocktails or a glass of wine with dinner is perfectly acceptable. Just remember to include water at the table. Balancing sips of alcohol with sips of water lessens the negative effects.

Eat healthy on the road, too!

Traveling is loads of fun. Vacations are a summer tradition for lots of families.

We get out of our daily routine, see new sights, relax and recharge our batteries. This is all a benefit to our mental health. But what about our dietary health?

Here’s how your family can stay on track out of town: 

Prepare your own snacks ahead of time. This includes homemade trail mix, popcorn, raw vegetables, hummus, apples and pears. Snacks make for a more pleasant trip, whether by car or plane. You won’t feel an urge to stop at (expensive) vendors. Avoid processed food, cookies, salted nuts or high calorie chips.

Fresh veggies

Keep an eye out for roadside produce stands. They usually have tasty local choices. Just be sure to wash well before peeling or cutting them yourself.

Visit a supermarket or farmer’s market at your destination. Make a list ahead of time, including items you get at home. You’re more likely to buy responsibly if you stick to that list.

Choose healthy foods at the breakfast or dinner buffet, if provided. Focus on fruits, egg whites and whole grains/fiber such as oatmeal for breakfast. For dinner, how about salads, lean protein, beans, nuts and veggies? Many times those homemade snacks come in handy between two bigger meals. Therefore, lunch doesn’t have to be a cost or temptation.

Restaurant tips

Choose locally run restaurants instead of fast food joints. Hometown cooks and servers know how food is prepared in their establishment. They can also honor special requests like marinades or dressings on the side, substituting vegetables for French fries, and grilled or broiled fish and chicken.

Seek out farm-to-table restaurants. These places reduce the amount of distance food travels. This means your meal has more nutritional value. A fun activity for the kids – have them research restaurants ahead of your arrival. They can look for places that advertise local products and healthy choices.

Look for delicious and nutritious menu items. It doesn’t do any good to pick a local place and then pile on the calories. Try fatty fish, grilled meats, fresh salads, broth-based soups and wraps. Again, your kids can research foods and drinks the town is known for. Give those a try!

Share and share alike. Many restaurants serve large portions. Consider splitting a dish with someone. You could also order a few plates for the table and pass them around. Another idea might be to order a full meal, eat until you are no longer hungry and then give away the rest of your meal to someone outside who might need it.

Remember to focus on feeling good during these long warm days. A good way to do that? Eat healthy all summer long.


0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *