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In the summertime we are constantly on the go; spending more time outside the house than in. This can sabotage our healthy eating habits or any diet changes we are trying to make. How can we enjoy this season without wreaking havoc on our bodies and ruining good habits we’ve formed? Whether you’re dining out at a restaurant, enjoying a barbecue on the deck, or packing a picnic dinner, healthy choices are easier than you think. Being prepared with a little knowledge and a plan are the foundation to surviving and escaping the summertime body blues.
#1 Catch of the Day: Seafood can be one of the healthiest options on the menu, if it’s not fried. The Center for Science in the Public Interest found that many of the seafood options offered in restaurants are low-fat and low-sodium, since fish can be prepared in a variety of healthy ways. Look for key words, such as steamed, baked, broiled, sautéed, blackened or grilled. If the dish comes with a sauce, simply ask for it on the side so you can determine how much to use.
#2 Fresh Picks: Drop that French fry like a hot potato! When words like fried, buttered, creamed, cheesy and au gratin are used to describe vegetables, you’re losing health benefits to high cholesterol and high fat. Don’t waste your calories on fried vegetables when fresh this time of year tastes so much better. When correctly prepared, farmer’s market vegetables can be so refreshing; you’ll want to double up on the serving. And this way, you’ll be getting full, not fat.
#3 Grilled to Perfection: Gravy, pan fried, or roasted in butter or cream sauce is a thumbs down in the health department. A marinade or a bit of olive oil and spices are all that’s needed to prepare a protein for the grill. You’ll get the benefits of flavor instead of the fat. Whether you’re ordering out or cooking out in your backyard, grilling is a go-to cooking method this time of year. It’s easy, healthy, and keeps the heat and mess out of the kitchen.
#4 Backyard BBQ: Let’s be honest, most of us will consume a fair amount of hot dogs and hamburgers this summer season. But the saturated fat in this fare gives it a bad score in the health books. If you’re going to a cook out at a friend’s house, don’t be afraid to offer to bring an alternative to hot dogs and hamburgers. There are plenty of guests that will be relieved to see grilled chicken breasts, turkey burgers, or chicken sausages available instead of just the traditional menu.
#5 On the Go: Going to the beach, pool, or any outdoor excursion calls for portable snacks. If you’re not prepared, it can be easy to settle on unhealthy snack options. Summer is the best time to keep fresh fruit on hand. It’s usually cheaper this time of year and tastes better since it’s most likely in season. Nuts also make a healthy, portable snack that provides healthy fats and protein to help you feel fuller longer.
We love eating out, and summer is a time of year when fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood are readily available. If you’re dining at a cooked-to-order restaurant, don’t be afraid to make special requests for lighter fare or more vegetables. Read menus carefully, and be mindful of portion sizes. Focus on eating flavor, not fat, and you’ll avoid the typical traps that can sabotage your diet this season.
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