Summertime healthy eating tips

The long days and warm nights of summer just beg for adventure. It can be easy to get a little carried away when enjoying the season. Follow these 6 summer eating tips to help you stay healthier all season long.

1. Take advantage of fresh produce 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 1 in 10 Americans gets enough fruits and vegetables. During the summer when farmer’s markets overflow with fresh fruits and vegetables, take full advantage of the wide variety of fresh foods and be the 1 in 10!

Filling up on fresh produce will help you get your recommended 1–2 cups of fruit and 2–3 cups of vegetables per day, and it will also keep you full longer. Diets rich in produce are also great for lowering cholesterol. Be sure to buy fruits and veggies you enjoy so you’re more likely to eat them. Don’t like kale? Try swiss chard or collard greens instead. Treat yourself to those fresh, local peaches!

Find produce that’s in season in your state with this Seasonal Food Guide. See if you can start cooking based on what’s in season. It’s remarkable what a difference fresh, in-season produce can make in a meal.

2. Embrace healthy grilling  

Grilling is a great way to make delicious food that tastes like summer. Grilled foods are usually lower in fat because there is no need to add fat or oil to the cooking process, and the high heat from the grill releases fat from the meat as it is cooking. Remember those vegetables from tip #1? Throwing those veggies on the grill is a fast way to make a delicious summer side.

Always be sure to clean your grill before using it for minimal char, avoid exposing meat directly to the flame, and remove any charred portions before eating for the healthiest, tastiest meal from your grill.

3. Plan ahead for trips and events    

If you’re going on a trip or even just heading next door to a potluck, planning ahead can help you make healthy choices. Have a trip to the beach on the books? Pack a cooler with fruit and vegetable-heavy meals, including snacks. Raw bell peppers sliced into strips make for an easy, mess-free snack in the car. Planning ahead for meals on a trip not only keeps your waistline happy, but it’s also easy on your wallet.

For those summer BBQs and potlucks, being prepared is key. Don’t skip meals before your event – you’ll be more likely to overeat there. Bring a healthy dish you like so you know there will be a healthy option at the event. If your event is a potluck or buffet, do a run-through of the options before picking up a plate. That way you know what you want to eat and don’t make the rookie mistake of running out of room on your plate before you see a favorite dish.

4. Be careful with alcoholic beverages   

Speaking of those summer events, alcoholic beverages can be loaded with sugar and calories. Avoid sweet mixed drinks like piña coladas and daiquiris. Instead, go for wine or a hard seltzer with less sugar. Beers vary in calories, starting as low as 45 calories and getting up to the 200–300 calorie range. Being mindful that the alcohol you choose can help you stay on track with your healthy summer goals.

5. Stay hydrated   

Staying hydrated is always important, but it’s vital during the summer months. According to the National Academies of Medicine, men need about 104 ounces and women need about 72 ounces of fluids every day. You can get your fluids from water, other beverages like juice, and even water-rich foods like fruits and veggies.

Staying hydrated can also keep you from overeating. Some people experience hunger when they’re actually dehydrated. If you stay on top of your hydration, starting with a glass of water first thing ineat the morning, you can keep hunger at bay.

6. Go for a walk after dinner

Take advantage of the longer days of summer with a post-dinner walk. Studies show that walking after a meal, especially after dinner, can provide a variety of health benefits. A walk after eating can help you digest your meal, reduce heartburn, and burn calories. Post-dinner walks are especially good for people with type 2 diabetes. Even a 10-minute walk can help manage blood sugar levels.

Mindful eating can go a long way in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but sometimes diet alone is not enough. Visit our blog for more information about diabetes and cholesterol, and visit Optum Perks for savings on your prescriptions.