By Dylan Foster
Summer is here, which means the kids are out of school and hungrier than ever. You want to keep them happy and fed, but you also want to keep them fit and healthy. Fortunately, you can do both at the same time. Here are five easy tips to making healthier meals for your family this summer.
1. Switch Out Red Meats at Your Next Barbecue
Getting your protein fix is important, but not all meats are necessarily good for you. Specifically, too much red meat, such as steak, bacon and pork sausages, contain higher amounts of saturated fats, which can raise your cholesterol and affect your health negatively in the long run. To reduce the amount of red meat you consume during barbecue season, try switching up some of your favorite backyard treats with some alternative meats. Grill some turkey burgers or swap out steak for salmon at your next cookout.
2. Make Fruits Your New Summer Candy
Now that the kids are home, they’ll be constantly on the search for afternoon snacks to keep their hunger at bay in between meals. If you have loads of sweets lying around, you can almost expect that they’ll be gone before the week is done. There’s nothing wrong with snacking; in fact, eating small snacks throughout the day can limit our portion sizes at meals. The problem is what your family is snacking on.
Instead of sweets and junk food, give your kids healthier snacking options such as fruits, nuts, and veggies. These foods have a significantly lower calorie count and aren’t chock full of over-processed sugar and salt, which can lead to sudden energy crashes. Fruits like grapes, apples, berries, and watermelons provide a healthier type of sugar that breaks down into a more effective burst of energy so your kids never tire from running around and playing outside.
3. Keep Your Portions Light
The recurring theme for many families is that they are simply eating too much food. A large part of this problem comes from the way we view portion sizes. We often feel the urge to fill our already oversized plates to the brim, and by the end of the meal, we are holding our bellies and reaching for some antacid.
An easy way to nip this problem in the bud is by ditching larger plates in favor of smaller ones. With a small plate, your portion sizes will more closely match the recommended amounts, and your mind will still think you’re getting just as much food for eating a full plate. Brilliant!
4. Stay Hydrate
With summer comes the inevitable heat that makes pool parties amazing, or on the other hand can make being outdoors uncomfortable. You and your family will likely respond by drinking more fluids, which is a good idea, but not all fluids are going to help you survive the blaring heat. Instead of instantly going for sugary sodas, reach for a glass of water instead. If your family is still craving something with a little more flavor, make a pitcher of unsweetened tea or some light juice.
5. Cut the Carbs
So many of our meals are based around heavy carbohydrates such as bread, rice, pasta and tortilla shells. These carbs take time to digest and can slow down your metabolism, adding extra empty calories to your diet. Use vitamin C-rich cabbage instead of tortillas to wrap your next chicken enchilada.
As an alternative, make a switch to veggie-based meals. When grilling your next burger, switch out the bun for a cauliflower crust bun. If you need more inspiration, you can try these veggie substitutes to prepare healthy meals for you and your family.
Creating healthy eating options for your family doesn’t have to be hard. Also, don’t forget that healthy eating pairs well with physical activity. Encourage your family to stay active this summer, and everyone will be feeling happy and energetic.
Dylan Foster is a health blogger and can be reached through healthwellwise.com.
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