Nothing says summer more than a scoop of ice cream, a cold beer and a juicy homemade burger. Warm evenings and slow days are perfect for little treats. If you answer the call every time, those treats can end up on your hips sooner rather than later!
A healthier diet doesn’t mean you have to eat celery sticks for the whole summer. With a few simple food swaps, you can create a healthier summer diet without sacrificing the tastes of summer. You can start by swapping:
1. Crisps with Popcorn
The summer heat tends to make us swap regular, spaced out meals to constant snacking. When you are out enjoying the beautiful summer days, a small bag of crisps always seems like a good idea! But crisps can be calorie-dense, and they don't have a lot of nutritional value.
Swapping them to popcorn is a great idea. Popcorn is low fat and a good source of protein. It even has a lot of antioxidants, and it's a great source of fibre. You should opt for air-popped homemade popcorn to ensure you enjoy the most benefits.
2. Ice Cream with Frozen Berries
Ice cream is a summer favourite but another sneaky food that can end up increasing your daily calorie intake. The classic summer ice cream from your local ice cream van should remain an occasional treat and not a daily occurrence!
Opt for frozen berries and fruit instead. For example, a single banana has only 90 calories. Chop the banana, place it in a container and freeze overnight. You’ll get a lovely treat to enjoy after dinner!
If you want something with an ice cream-like consistency, you can whip up frozen berries together with a bit of Greek yoghurt. Store in a container, freeze overnight and scoop into portions to enjoy in the scorching sun.
3. Mayo Dips with Greek Yoghurt
Speaking of Greek yoghurt, it is an excellent replacement for mayo-based dips. These can often pack a lot of calories, and store-bought dips tend to have heaps of added sugar in them. While a tablespoon of mayo has 100 calories, Greek yoghurt only has around eight calories in the same amount.
You can also flavour your yoghurt in exciting ways. Add a bit of salt, pepper, chilli or garlic depending on the flavours you love the most. You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice or a spoonful of olive oil for better consistency.
4. Fruit Juices and Sodas with Flavoured Water
Staying hydrated is vital in the summer heat. Still, you shouldn't use this as an excuse to drink fruit juices and sodas as much as you like. While water is always the healthiest way to stay hydrated, drinking only water isn't always the most exciting thing.
Infuse your water with berries, fruit, and even herbs! Add a few slices of cucumber and lemon to your water jug or bottle for a refreshing drink. Alternatively, you could include blueberries and strawberries for more flavour – the combinations are endless! You can even freeze a few berries in your ice cubes. When you pop the ice cubes in your water, the berries will flavour your drink and keep your water cold.
5. White Pasta with Wholemeal Pasta
Summer salads are often made with pasta. Pasta is a classic ingredient and a familiar household favourite. Still, too much pasta can quickly appear in places you'd rather it didn't! If you want to make your pasta dishes a little healthier, simply swap the white pasta into a wholemeal version. Wholemeal pasta has more fibre and vitamins and the same great taste.
6. Butter with Olive Oil
Summer picnics and barbeques include a lot of buttery spreads. A dollop of butter on top of grilled corn is a great treat but not the most health-conscious option to make. There is a healthier option in the form of olive oil!
Olive oil is an excellent source of healthy fats and antioxidants. A recent Harvard research study found that a tablespoon of olive oil could reduce your likelihood of a stroke. People who regularly ate olive oil also had better cardiovascular health compared to those that used butter instead.
Brush your steaks and grilled corns with a bit of extra virgin olive oil. You can add crushed garlic or chilli flakes to the oil for extra flavour.
7. Rethink Your Burger
Burgers are a summer favourite and a must-have for many backyard parties. The good news is that you don’t have to swap your burgers away from the menu. You could simply rethink your burger and make it healthier with a few choices. Here are easy and tasty swaps to consider with your next burger:
- Swap white bread to wholemeal buns or even rye bread alternatives.
- Ditch the bread altogether and enjoy your burger with lettuce wraps.
- Use chicken or turkey instead of beef or pork and avoid breaded meat.
- Try veggie patties or opt for salmon for lots of vitamins and omega-3.
- Swap mayo and ketchup to Greek yoghurt dips.
Small But Meaningful Changes
You don’t have to overhaul your whole diet at once. Eating healthy foods also doesn’t equal a miserable summer. Turn your summer barbecues and picnics healthier with little changes and without sacrificing the enjoyment of good food. The above food swaps ensure you can have snacks and flavour without piling in on the calories and sugar.
You can treat yourself by being more mindful of your food choices. You should remember to:
- Have healthier options readily available and limit the unhealthy snacks around the house.
- Educate yourself on the calories and vitamin content of the food you eat by reading labelling.
- Cook your meals as much as possible instead of buying ready-made meals.
- Drink enough water and get a healthy amount of sleep each night.
Don't be too harsh on yourself either. Ice creams, beers and burgers are part of summer, but enjoy them in moderation! With little food swaps, you can enjoy the same summery feeling and maintain a healthier diet!