We are now in the heat of summer- it is the time of year for cookouts, pool parties, family reunions and many occasions where food is all around us and many times occasions where we are tempted to overeat. How do we make sure that we enjoy all that summer has to offer, but not over indulge when it comes to food? By focusing on a few simple strategies and having a couple recipes in your pocket that bring all the flavor you want, but not all the calories you don’t, you can have a happy and healthy summer!
First, we all need to pay attention to portions. We have all heard it said time and time again that any food can be a part of a balanced and healthy diet, given we watch the portion and frequency in which we consume that food. That point continues to be true as we look at a long table filled with wonderful food. Taking a small portion of different foods means that you will feel like you are getting to try all your favorite dishes, but not overdoing it. Remember that you can use the size of a tennis ball as a reference to about 1 cup of food. You could use this reference as a guideline for the total amount of those starchy sides- like pasta, potato and bean salads- that you should have during your meal. For meat, your cell phone or a deck of cards can serve as a reference for the 3 oz portion of meat to aim for. When adding spreads and dressings to your plate, use your thumb as a reference to the 1 tablespoon portion size that would be appropriate.
Now that you have your portions under control, remember what a healthy plate looks like and work to maintain that as your guideline, even when attending cookouts and summer parties. Vegetables are a great go-to as a pre-meal snack or a first course of your meal. Starting with a salad or loading up on veggies as as appetizer leads to you feeling fuller and more satisfied as you continue with your meal. Check out your protein choices and try to stick with a lean cut of meat. Lean ground beef hamburgers, grilled chicken and fish make great choices. When thinking about what a healthy plate looks like, only ¼ of that plate is starch, or about 1 cup. Keep that in mind when choosing your side dishes and you will be able to stay within your calorie budget. Finally, bring something to the party that you know will not break the calorie bank and encourage your friends and family to do the same!
Need some ideas for some lighter recipes? Check out EatingWell.com and CookingLight.com for some great ideas and recipes including main dishes, sides, desserts, and drinks. You could also pick up the monthly magazine from either of these sites or invest in a new cookbook to give you some fresh and healthy ideas. Also, you can follow Activate Allen County on Pinterest (Activate Allen Co.) where you can find many great tasting and figure friendly recipes to try or simply go to our main website www.activateallencounty.com and check out the Healthy Living section.
We at Activate Allen County wish you a safe, healthy and happy summer- make it your best one yet by making choices that you can feel good about! Cheers to a Healthy Summer!