Stay Fit without Sacrificing Food, Fun, or Family Time this Summer

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Ice cream, baked beans, and burgers are all quintessential summer fare, but these delicious indulgences shouldn’t comprise the bulk of your warm-weather diet. Here are a few ways to encourage your entire family to eat healthy all summer long.

Add alternative ingredients

You don’t have to live by grandma’s recipe book in order to enjoy a delicious meal at sunset. Consider swapping a few ingredients in your favorite recipes to cut down on fat and calories. For instance, use cabbage instead of tortillas when making enchiladas or tacos. You can also replace ground beef with ground turkey or chicken and cool off with frozen fruit pops instead of ice cream.

Shop local

There are a number of reasons why you should shop at your local CSA or farmers market before a conventional grocery store. Perhaps the most important is that food grown within 100 miles of relocation tends to retain more nutrients and is picked when ripe as opposed to being artificially ripened using ethylene gas. As an added bonus, spending your Saturday morning digging through bushel baskets of fresh produce is a fun and economical way to get the kids interested in the quality of the food they consume. The Food Revolution Network also points out that fresher food tends to taste better and the money you spend at the farmers market will support your local economy.

Go for color

Nature has made it easy to get a variety of vitamins and nutrients by color-coding fruits and vegetables. Experts say you should eat the rainbow, but what does this mean? Essentially, it’s a way to select what goes on your plate by avoiding too many of the same types of food. Orange fruits and vegetables, such as pumpkin, corn, and butternut squash, are full of beta-carotene and vitamins A and C. Green foods, including lettuce and asparagus, are often filled with fiber and contains sulfurous compounds that offer protective benefits against cancer and macular degeneration. Blues and purples – purple cabbage, blueberries, etc. – are dense in nutrition and may improve urinary tract health. Tomatoes, radishes, and chili peppers fall into the red food category and contain lycopene. Cauliflower, onions, and garlic – white foods – have pre- and probiotic properties and offer anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits for the body. Read more about the different benefits of each color at BodyEcology.com.

Don’t focus on food

No matter what time of year it is, when people get together, food tends to be the focus. But it should not be. While eating is certainly an important part of your day, avoid using food as the centerpiece of your activities. If you focus on fun, you won’t have to sacrifice your health to have a good time. Plan your summer get-togethers after lunch and offer an assortment of healthy and refreshing appetizers instead of a full spread. Likewise, family dinners should prioritize togetherness. Plan an activity, such as a family game of badminton or walk around the neighborhood, for after your meal so you won’t be tempted to sit around the table for seconds.

Eat a few treats

One of the worst things you can do when you’re trying to stay on track – or teach kids healthy eating habits – is to completely deprive yourself and your family of the occasional indulgence. You won’t wreck your diet by hosting a dessert night once a week, and it’s perfectly okay to sneak a burger at a backyard barbecue. By limiting – but not eliminating – these types of “sometimes” foods, you will help your children develop a healthy relationship with food.

Get help

If you’re not comfortable in the kitchen, consider taking a cooking class. The University of North Carolina notes that cooking classes will not only encourage you to try new ingredients, but will also help you stay organized, which will go a long way toward creating a healthy culinary experience for your family.

Most importantly, have fun. Your goal is to create a positive relationship with food for yourself and your family, and nothing does that better than making memories while you plan and prep.

Post contributed by Dylan Foster at healthwellwise.com

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