Summer is in full swing, but it’s not too late to make the most of it with a few tips for healthy summer eating. Whether you’re trying to maintain your poolside physique or simply trying to survive the heat feeling fresh and fit, these small changes are sure to help you succeed.
The most important practice for the summer is to stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water will help to keep you cool and feeling energized. Rinsing your mouth with water after eating will also help to clear any leftover food particles that may cause bad breath, or worse, plaque and cavities. This also reduces your risk of tooth decay by clearing sugars away. If you’re thinking water is too bland and you need some flavor in your life, no worries. There are several zero or low-calorie drink mixes and flavorings that can be added to water without adding calories and sugars. Iced tea is also a great summer drink, but be mindful of how it’s sweetened. Green teas are praised for their high antioxidant content and they won’t stain your teeth!
Avoid Hot Dogs
Hot dogs are a staple summer food. After all, no cook-out or pool party is complete without them. However, hot dogs have a reputation for being a “mystery” meat and are also packed with preservatives. Nitrites, the most commonly used preservative in hot dogs, are believed to cause halitosis (bad breath). Opt for healthier options and try turkey, veggie, tuna or salmon burgers instead. These alternatives offer the same summer-food feeling without the empty calories and lingering odor.
Not only is the summer the best time of year for fresh seafood, it’s a lighter protein that won’t weigh you down. Low in calories, many types of fish are rich in omega-3 acids and nutrients from “good” fats. The fatty acids found in fish like salmon and sardines, called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have been found to reduce gum disease. According to WebMD, people with diets rich in omega-3 acids are 30 percent less likely to develop periodontitis.
Substitute Greek Yogurt for Mayo
What backyard barbeque or potluck lunch is complete without pasta or potato salad? These sides perfectly compliment your barbeque sandwiches and hamburgers, but they are packed with carbohydrates and starch. The main culprit in these dishes is mayonnaise, the main ingredient giving such salads their creamy texture. An equally tasty alternative, Greek yogurt, will cut your calories and carbs but still produce a creamy salad. Greek yogurt is thicker than traditional yogurt, and has many health benefits. Rich in calcium and probiotics, yogurt is great for the teeth. Calcium strengthens the bones and tooth enamel, defending against tooth decay. According to Dr. Katz, some probiotics battle against bacteria that cause bad breath, cavities and gum disease.
Fruits for Dessert
Fruit bars and popsicles are a symbol of summertime, but are often overlooked in favor of ice cream and icebox pies. There are several flavors of these low-calorie treats, and many are made with real fruit juice and no added sugar. Be wary of ice-pops, the frozen tubes of juice, which are actually sugar, corn syrup and food coloring. Natural sugars from fruit will satisfy your sweet tooth and are easier for your body to break down. There are many sugar substitutes and sweeteners now days. Stevia, a natural sweetener extracted from the stevia plant, has zero calories. It tastes great when sprinkled on top of berries- the perfect recipe for fruit salad! Agave nectar, derived from the agave plant, won’t save you on calories but is low on the glycemic index. Sweet treats like these will save your waistline and your smile!