As the sun shines brighter and days get longer, summer brings with it an abundance of fresh, healthy foods that can help you make better meal choices. However, with barbecues, picnics, and ice cream stands at every corner, it can also be a season full of temptations that can derail your healthy eating habits. Fear not! With a bit of planning and mindful eating, you can enjoy delicious meals all season long without compromising your health.
Whether you're trying to lose weight, maintain a healthy body weight, or simply want to feel more energized, these tips will guide you toward nutritious foods that are as good for your body as they are for your taste buds. From understanding the importance of a balanced diet to incorporating seasonal produce into your meals, these strategies will ensure you're equipped to make the most of the bountiful summer season. So, let's dive in and discover how you can savor the flavors of summer while keeping your health in check.
1. Eat Plenty of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into your daily life is an essential step towards maintaining a healthier diet. These nutritional powerhouses provide a wide range of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and they also offer numerous health benefits that can contribute to overall well-being.
For instance, fruits and vegetables are high in dietary fiber, which aids in maintaining a healthy digestive system and can help prevent constipation and other digestion problems. They're also teeming with beneficial plant compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce a person's risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease.
Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your meals might seem challenging, but it's easier than you think. You can blend them into smoothies for a quick breakfast or snack, toss them into salads for lunch or dinner, or even snack on them whole. No matter how you prepare them, making fresh fruit and veggies a part of your routine will help ensure you're getting the nutrients your body needs.
2. Stay Hydrated
It's no secret that hydration is key to overall health and well-being. Staying properly hydrated helps keep your body functioning optimally, as it helps regulate your body temperature, promotes healthy digestion, and aids in the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals. When it comes to hydration, plain water is always your best bet, as it's free of calories and additives.
If you're looking for a bit more flavor, there are also plenty of healthy options that can help liven up your hydration routine. For instance, you can opt for water with a bit of natural fruit juice or add slices of lemon, lime, or cucumber to your water for a refreshing twist. If you're looking for an extra energy boost, try adding just a splash of potassium-packed coconut water to your routine!
3. Choose Whole Grains Over Refined Grains
Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Unlike refined grains that have been stripped of their outer bran layer, whole grains still contain all of their natural nutrients, making them a much healthier option than their refined counterparts.
Whole grains can also help keep your body feeling full for longer periods of time, as they contain complex carbohydrates that take the body longer to break down and digest. This helps prevent unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels, which can lead to energy crashes and cravings later on.
Some great whole-grain options include quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, oats, and barley. Incorporating these nutrient-rich grains into your meals can help you get the most out of summer's harvest while keeping your body healthy and energized.
4. Opt for Lean Proteins
Lean proteins are a cornerstone of any healthy diet. Proteins are the basic building blocks of muscle tissue, and they provide the energy needed to power through your day. In addition to aiding in the growth and repair of muscle tissue, they also play an important role in keeping your immune system functioning optimally.
When compared to their higher-fat counterparts, lean meats like fish and poultry are lower in calories and contain essential nutrients that can help maintain muscle mass while keeping body fat levels in check. For a vegetarian-friendly lean protein option, there are plenty of plant-based proteins that pack the same nutritional punch. Tofu, tempeh, and edamame are all great sources of protein that can help round out a meal without the need for meat.
5. Know the Difference Between Unhealthy and Healthy Fats
Not all fats are created equal. Unsaturated fats, such as those found in olive oil, avocado, and nuts, provide essential fatty acids that your body needs to function properly. Eating unsaturated fats can help reduce inflammation and support heart health.
On the other hand, saturated fats found in foods like butter, red meat, and full-fat dairy products can raise your cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease. To ensure you're getting the healthiest fats possible, opt for unsaturated fats over saturated ones.
6. Be Mindful of Portion Sizes
In America, portion sizes tend to be much larger than necessary. Overeating, even with healthy foods, can lead to weight gain and associated health problems. By controlling your portions, you can better manage your weight, more easily eat fewer calories, feel healthier, and even have more energy.
Practicing portion control doesn't mean you have to weigh every morsel that goes on your plate. Instead, it can be as simple as comparing the serving sizes of your food to familiar objects. For example, a single serving of meat should be about the size of a deck of cards, while a serving of carbohydrates, like pasta or rice, should be about the size of a golf ball.
7. Avoid Excess Sugar and Processed Foods
Eating healthy doesn't mean you can never have a sweet treat. However, it's important to be mindful of the amount of added sugar and processed foods in your diet. Whenever possible, opt for natural sugars found in fruits over processed sugars used in candy bars and soda.
As for processed foods, try to limit them as much as possible. These are typically packed full of unhealthy fats, sodium, and artificial ingredients that can wreak havoc on your health if consumed in excess. Instead of opting for processed snacks, reach for natural options like fruits, vegetables, or nuts whenever possible.
Get The Support You Need From Atlanta Bariatrics
Adopting a healthy eating pattern or diet doesn't have to be an overwhelming or impossible process. With these simple tips, you can start taking steps towards better health and optimize your summertime diet with ease.
At Atlanta Bariatrics, we work with individuals who are looking to lose weight through and . Our team of board-certified bariatric surgeons and registered dietitians are committed to helping you reach your weight loss goals and become the healthiest version of yourself. If you're looking for support on your weight loss journey, get in touch with us today!