Most folks think of summer as a time when comfort foods are off the table and losing the winter weight is natural. Well, sadly, they are wrong. It’s easy to wreck your diet throughout the summer months as you get lulled into a false sense of security that more outdoor time equals more exercise and more exercise means fewer pounds.
Maintaining a healthy weight relies on more than just physical fitness. If you want to keep the entire family on the right track, you’ll have to pay attention to the food and drink you put on the table all year. Fortunately for you, choices for fresh fare aren’t nearly as limited when warm weather arrives. Here are a few tips to keep your belly full without bogging you down:
Grown your own food
Sowing your first seed can be exciting and a little bit nerve-racking. But there are few better ways to get up close and personal with your food than to simply grow it yourself. Growing your own food lets you control what chemicals you expose your family to and makes grocery shopping that much easier.
As an added bonus, it’s a fun activity that will give the kids an opportunity to learn that food doesn’t originate on aisle nine. The Old Farmer’s Almanac can walk you through the basics of vegetable gardening. Perhaps the most important reason to grow your own food is that you – and your kids – are more likely to sample a variety of fruits and vegetables when you’ve nurtured them from seed. Even if you kill your houseplants, there are lots of vegetables that are easy to grow. Bush beans, for example, mature quickly and won’t take up much real estate. Small carrots and container-grown tomatoes and watermelons are also good choices.
Watch what you snack
Snacks are sneaky and nothing will ruin your healthy eating habits quicker than the added fat and calories you get from grabbing a quick bite at the pool. When you’re out and about, pack your own healthy alternatives to concession stand fare. If you’re going to be active, you may want a substantial snack but nachos are not the answer. Instead, opt for a family-friendly (and gut-healthy) guacamole dip mixed with sauerkraut or Greek yogurt. Use carrot chips instead of tortillas for a satisfying snack that even the kids will love.
Change the way you cook
If your family is always on the go, you probably don’t have time to plan and prep healthy meals for everyone in your pack. Consider switching your cooking methods to save time. Today explains that pressure cooking – which has become wildly popular over the last five or six years – is the best way to speed things up. And it’s not just faster, but cutting down exposure to heat helps retain the nutritional value of the food you eat.
While there are plenty of benefits associated with cooking your food, there are also reasons to choose certain raw foods over their cooked counterparts. Men’s Journal uses red bell pepper as an example. A single raw red bell pepper can give you more than 150 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin C. This vitamin breaks down when exposed to heat.
Roasted almonds are another option that can provide benefits for those trying to lose weight. These tasty treats double as a serving of healthy proteins. For more information and scientific research, check out this PDF provided by the Almond Board of California.
In addition to changing what and how you eat, if you want to truly keep your health in top shape, plan to take your lunch with you when you head to the gym or pool and avoid fast food like the plague.