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Eat Well, Feel Well: 6 Tips for Making Healthier Meals this Summer

Summer is finally here, and families are rejoicing at the prospect of pool parties and outdoor barbecues for the next few months. It’s no secret that summer packs some of the best seasonal eats of the year, and you’re probably looking for a bold new recipe to wow your family and friends. In your quest for sizzling flavors, you shouldn’t forget the importance of keeping meals as healthy as they are tasty. Remember, what we put in our body has a huge impact on how we feel, and research even shows that our gut health can directly affect our mental health. So to help everyone stay healthy and happy, here are a few tips to feeding your family this summer.

It was a month of gentle goodbyes to Spring, as the days become warmer and longer and Summer finally beckons. A month of playing with soft sweet smelling lilac, and beautiful bold peonies, in my studio for styling opportunities, as I stretched my throwing skills further and experimented with new color palettes with my porcelain slip casting.

Stay Hydrated to Beat the Heat

As we begin breaking down how to stay healthy over the summer, we shouldn’t neglect the importance of staying hydrated. Summer can be a lot of fun, but too much fun in the sun can be dangerous. Not only do we run the risk of sunburn, but we also can fall victim to heat exhaustion. Drinking plenty of water will help the body cool itself and reduces the risk of side effects like headache, nausea and dizziness.

Encourage Healthy Snacking

You might think that snacking in between meals is the absolute worst thing for your family to do, but in reality it’s the opposite. Snacking throughout the day can actually balance blood sugar so we eat less during meal times. The catch, however, is to snack on the right kinds of food. Greasy chips and sugary sweets will not sustain fullness like fruits, nuts and veggies. Try healthy spins on summer favorites, like a gut-healthy guacamole made with Greek yogurt, strawberry shortcake with yogurt instead of whipped cream or a salad with watermelon, cucumber and feta cheese.

Tend to Your Gut Health

Remember when we said gut health affects mood? Research continues to show that the microbes in our gut can strongly affect brain function and mood. By keeping your gut microbiome in check, you’re facilitating better mental and physical health. You can do this by incorporating foods with live cultures (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut) into your diet, avoiding antibiotics and adding whole foods and more fiber into your diet.

Smaller Plates = Smaller Portion Sizes

If you’re worried about your family spending the summer holiday eating, then there are a few tricks you can try to help manage portion sizes. Drinking a glass of water before meals and sipping between bites will make you feel more full more quickly. In addition, using smaller plates means you can’t fill up your plate with heaping helpings. Eating a salad before dinner can help you fill up on healthy options so you’ll feel less tempted to load your plate with carb-rich dishes.

Stop Eating Right Before Bedtime

We eat food in order to build up the energy to complete various physical tasks throughout the day. When you look at it that way, it seems a little strange to eat right before lying down in bed for six to eight hours. Think of the food you eat just before going to bed as wasted energy. Your body isn’t able to correctly process the food as it enters sleep mode and ends up being stored in your body as unhealthy fat. Eating before bedtime can also be bad for your mental health, since you will be less likely to get the quality sleep you need to wake up feeling fully rested and ready to take on the next day.

Drop Processed Fats & Sugars

Today, we are exposed more and more to processed foods. While these foods are great when you need food that lasts a while, they unfortunately lack the same kind of nutrition our bodies get from fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Instead, these foods are over-saturated with fats and packed with empty calories that are harder for your body to appropriately digest. Instead of reaching for convenient, pre-made meals, switch to natural organic foods you can find at your local farmers market

By helping your family stick to a healthy diet this summer, you give them an opportunity to feel great on the inside and the outside. Look for fun new recipes to try that can boost well-being and gut health, and try to avoid overeating and eating before bed. With a few changes this summer, you can head into fall with healthier minds and bodies.

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