Beth Aldrich is a Certified Nutrition, Healthy Lifestyle Counselor, spokesperson and author of the book, Real Moms Love to Eat: How to Conduct a Love Affair with Food and Still Look Fabulous! (due out in January 2012). Here are some tips she's shared with us on how to eat healthier food this summer (and for good!).
• First some helpful info: Always balance your plate with protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains/fiber and healthy fats. By eating “balanced” at every meal, you are certain to maintain good health and a strong, lean body. Steer clear from processed sugar, white flour/carbs and overly-salty foods.
• As a self-avowed Whole Foodie, I go for organic whenever possible. But sometimes the organic option is so much more expensive than the non-organic one that my inner spendthrift protests. That's why I always suggest to consider buying local! Every meal can be healthy AND nutritious if you know that it's been naturally grown by a local farmer. Frequent your local farmer's market and talk with the farmers and learn how they operate their farm, the growing procedures they use and if they use pesticides or not.
• One approach that I recommend to clients is to only buy organic when the actual edible parts of a non-organically grown food might come into direct contact with toxic fertilizers and pesticides. That way, you are insuring the fact that your child doesn't come in contact with anything harmful.
• The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that,”Consumers can reduce their chemical exposure by some 80 percent by either avoiding the most contaminated conventionally grown fruits and vegetables altogether, or by eating only the organic varieties.”
To help us sort through what and what not to buy, the group offers a handy Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides, which fits on a small piece of paper that you can keep in your pocket and have handy on grocery trips. You can print it out for free from EWG’s FoodNews.org website, or you can download it as a free App for your iPhone.
• Parents and kids alike all love picnics and barbecues, so what better way to sneak in some healthy nutrition than through delicious and colorful foods? Outdoor eating should be easy-breezy and fun, not a nutritional landmine. Cut back on calories, not taste, by substituting turkey, salmon or chicken for your burgers and slide it between a sandwich “thin” bun (here's one option), with less fat and carbohydrates and more protein.
• For children, try grilling up some peaches or pineapple on a stick for a new way of eating the daily recommended servings for fruit and vegetables. (I always throw in a few pieces of red and yellow peppers or zucchini on the stick as well, since most children will eat it the whole thing without realizing it's not all fruit!) Baste with a mixture of brown sugar, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, for flavor.
• Try making your cole slaw without mayo this summer. Instead, toss up pre-sliced broccoli, slaw, julienned carrots, purple cabbage and light vinegarette dressing.
• Remember to hydrate! Make water more fun by placing pure filtered water into a glass pitcher, adding sliced fruit, (such as berries, oranges and/or pineapple) and some crushed ice, and no one will miss the soda or juice.