…while maintaining a healthy eating routine.
During the summer it is common for our eating habits to shift. With many celebrations, bar-b-q’s and other social gatherings taking place this time of year, we might not be eating as healthfully, or we might be consuming more food and alcohol than usual. While we should enjoy this fun and short-lived season, it’s important that our once in a while indulgences don’t become permanent habits. If you tend to overindulge or fall off track easily in the summertime, don’t despair. The summer can be the perfect time to clean up eating habits and boost your nutritional intake.
Summer is the perfect time to add fresh, nutrient-dense produce to your meals.
One major benefit of realigning eating habits during the summer is the array of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs that are available this season. This allows us to add variety and extra nutrients to each meal. When the temperature rises, we naturally desire foods with higher water content, so we can stay hydrated in the heat. We also gravitate towards eating lighter because our bodies no longer need the extra carbohydrates that we primitively crave more of during the winter months.
So, here are some tips to maintain a healthy eating routine to off-set the not-so-healthy eating that we may partake in this summer.
- Identify Your Favorites
It is always easier to implement foods we like rather than forcing ourselves to eat things we are not crazy about. When my clients want to increase their fruit and vegetable intake, I have them list the fruits and vegetables they enjoy the most. We then use their list as a guide for grocery shopping and selecting recipes.
- Find Recipes in Advance
Many of us look for recipes right before preparing a meal. This is fine, unless we discover we do not have the necessary ingredients on hand or the recipes are too complicated to prepare in a short time. I always recommend finding five to ten recipes based on your list of favorite produce that appeal to you (or to your family if you are cooking for them too). After choosing recipes, you can check to make sure you have the ingredients needed prior to prep. This method is also helpful for preparing lunch for work or school.
- Add Favorites to Your Grocery List
Once you have made your list of favorite fruits and vegetables, and have found the recipes you would like to use, you can add these items and ingredients to your weekly shopping list. This ensures that you have fresh produce on hand that you enjoy eating, along with the condiments needed to cook. The key here is when you always have these “go-to” items on hand, you are more likely to include them in your diet on a regular basis.
- Prepare for the Week Ahead
Assuming your work week starts on Monday, have your new grocery list written and ready for shopping over the weekend or right before. Buying your weekly groceries before the work week guarantees that you will have everything you need to prep ahead of time. This way, the washing, chopping, and storing of your fruits and vegetables is done by Sunday and ready to go for weekday meals. Having a bowl of fresh cut fruit in the fridge is also helpful for breakfast or snacking. With most of the prep work done, you won’t be pressed on time and resorting to unhealthier meals or snack grabs.
- Try it Out
Finally, give yourself a week or two to try out this system. Take notice of what works and what doesn’t, or what you like and don’t like. After getting into a routine, you can adjust the timing of your shopping or prep work, or choose different recipes for the following week. Eventually, you will be in a rhythm of integrating more vegetables and fruit on a daily basis. Soon, the healthy weekday meals will counter the less healthy food choices you might have to make at social gatherings. Most importantly, you can enjoy the summer while still maintaining a healthy eating routine!