SparkPeople Advertisers Keep the Site Free

Food & Cooking Articles   |  

The Warm Weather Guide to Healthier Eating

Let the Season be Your Guide

-- By Zach Van Hart, SparkPeople Contributor

Looking for new, inventive ways to improve your eating habits? Warm weather can help you create better nutritional habits. From longer days to seasonal produce, the next few months are a great time to make your diet reach new heights.

Breakfast
Even though it’s typically the smallest meal of the day, breakfast is the most important one because it sets the tone for the entire day. What you eat, or do not eat, will determine how much you eat for lunch, dinner and snacks. If you skip breakfast, you become more likely to binge at lunch and load up on unneeded calories. So how can the pleasant weather help with eating breakfast?

Set up a system with Mother Nature's virtues as the backbone. Now that the sun is out and the temperature is nice when you wake up, eat breakfast outside every morning. Pick a place – your porch, deck or favorite chair – and take 10 to 15 minutes to eat and enjoy. No need for eggs, bacon and all the fixins; cereal with skim milk, a whole-wheat bagel with low-fat cream cheese or a fruit smoothie is all you need to start the day right. <pagebreak>

Lunch
This is a trouble meal for two reasons: 1. If you eat at a restaurant, it’s hard to control portion sizes, 2. It’s usually followed by sitting at a desk for the next several hours. This equates to consuming a lot of calories without burning any in return. A few more problems with a typical lunch out:

  • Lack of whole grains (mostly white bread, white pasta and white rice)
  • Few fruits and vegetables
  • Danger foods (French fries, fattening condiments)
The solution? Pack your lunch. You can control the portions, add fruits and veggies, make sure all of your carbohydrates are complex and avoid unhealthy snacks and sweets. Now about burning some of those calories, again take advantage of the warmer weather and eat away from the office. If you choose a spot that’s a 10-minute walk away, you’ll burn 120 calories just by walking there and back.

Still unsure? Do you usually eat lunch with work buddies? Bring them along! Make a lunch team where everyone packs their lunches and heads out of the office to eat. Better yet, each person on the team could make a healthy, big batch of food once a week for the rest of team, so every day is a different, healthy lunch. Everyone wins.

Dinner
Keep taking advantage of the longer days and fire up that grill. Grilling out has all of the good foods that come with hitting up the drive-thru; they're just healthier versions. You can have a burger if you'd like, or go with healthier foods such as chicken or fish. You eliminate a lot of the grease that comes with frying. But who said to stop with meat? Add some veggies to the mix. Throw on a few ears of corn, or cut up and skewer some peppers, onions and tomatoes. Cooking on the grill will take up the same time as the drive-thru, and it’s cheaper, too.

Other tips:
From the flowers blooming in your garden to the vegetables for sale at the farmers market, bright colors abound during summer. Spread that variety to your diet with a healthy dose of different-colored fruits and vegetables. The food will taste great, and the presentation will be more lively.
  • Orange – oranges, peppers, carrots, peaches
  • Yellow – apples, peppers, bananas, corn
  • Red – apples, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries
  • Purple – blueberries, grapes
  • Green – peppers, kiwi, broccoli, peas, leafy greens
  • White – cauliflower, water chestnuts
Eliminating soda has enormous benefits to your diet. Replacing it with water would be preferable, but if you really crave that sweet taste in your drink, go for the spring and summertime favorite, unsweetened iced tea. It will quench your thirst on a hot day for fewer calories and less caffeine than soda. Or, give water a shot, but slice up a cucumber, lemon, lime or orange and drop the pieces in a pitcher to add some refreshing flavor.
Page 1 of 1         Return to Main Page >