Anne Harguth, R.D.N.
It’s summer, and the warmer weather tends to influence people’s dining habits by eating out and attending celebrations and events more frequently. In fact, some reports show that nearly half of consumers eat out more in the summer — often on a weekly basis.
Whether you are dining out or grilling at home, here are 8 healthy reminders:
1. Use portion control.
Healthy eating does not imply cutting out all of your favorite foods, but it doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. For those few unhealthy items that you can’t live without, consider moderation and stick to one serving a few times a week.
2. Make a healthy plate.
Whether you are attending a graduation party or eating at the cabin, make a healthy plate. Balance your plate with fruits, vegetables, protein and whole grains. Follow the portion and proportion guidelines from the Department of Agriculture, which recommends half of your plate be filled with fruits and vegetables, and the other half with grains, protein and dairy.
3. Read labels.
Be sure to read the nutrition facts label on food packages, or read the nutritional information on the menu carefully, noting how many total calories are in your serving. On average, one meal should range between 500–700 calories for a healthy adult. The breakfast meal usually is lighter in calories.
4. Dine and shop smart.
Even when you are dining out, remember the plate guidelines noted above. While french fries technically may be a vegetable, they aren’t considered to be healthy. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, and visit your local farmer’s market for fresh, low-calorie produce.
5. Skip the salt, cut the fat.
When grilling, choose lean, unprocessed meats. And, when cooking, choose unsaturated fats and use less sodium. Experiment with herbs, spices and vinegars to add flavor.
6. Be cautious of fad diets.
Plenty of diets promise results that sound too good to be true — and they probably are. Get the facts, do your research or ask your dietitian before considering a fad diet.
7. Snack smart.
Those morning pastries, afternoon cookies and evening desserts add up. Choose fruit, low-fat yogurt, whole-grain items, or veggies and dip when looking for a snack. Fresh, in-season fruit can be a great snack, too.
8. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
While it’s important to stay hydrated year-round, summer activities can mean increased water loss through sweat and evaporation. Pay attention to staying hydrated and what you’re drinking. Because calories from beverages can add up quickly, be sure to choose zero-calorie or low-calorie beverages. And with so many beverages on the market, remember fruit-infused or plain water is still one of the best and lowest-calorie ways to hydrate your body.