• Dylan Foster

5 Tips to Keep Your Family Eating Well this Summer

Having a family, you appreciate the importance of eating healthy. Getting healthy meals on the table three times a day, however, is another story. It's especially difficult during the summer when everyone has things going on and no one is on the same schedule.

Despite the challenges, eating well is worth the effort. When your family enjoys healthy meals, they enjoy better health. A good diet gives your body the nutrients it needs to build itself up, repair damage, and fight illness. And if you think nutrition's benefits are limited to physical health, you're mistaken.

In addition to the way you cope with stress, the way you eat plays a big role in your mental health. According to the Mental Health Foundation,“Food plays an important contributing role in the management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Alzheimer's disease.” Even on a day-to-day basis, the whole family will enjoy improved moods, energy, and focus when they're eating well.

If you want to see those benefits for your family, eating healthy should be a top priority. Thankfully, it doesn't have to be complicated. Here are five ways you can keep your family eating well this summer, even when it's too hot to cook.

1. Eat Seasonally

Fruits and vegetables start losing their nutrients as soon as they're picked. That means the less time it takes for your food to travel from farm to plate, the healthier it is. Find the freshest produce by shopping for seasonal fruits and vegetables grown in your own area. If you can't find locally-sourced produce at the grocery store, shop at the farmers market or purchase a CSA subscription.

2. Hydrate Sugar-Free

It's important to stay hydrated when temperatures rise, but if your family reaches for juice or soda when they're thirsty, they're consuming a lot of added sugar throughout the day. Encourage your family to drink water for hydration, reserving sweetened beverages for the occasional treat. If your kids grow bored of water, mix it up with DIY water infusions. Wellness Mama recommends some great combinations like cucumber mint, watermelon basil, and cherry lime.

3. Serve Dinner Cold

No one said dinner has to be hot. When it's so hot you can't bear to turn on the stove, look to chilled recipes to keep the family fed. Chilled soups, cold noodle dishes, bean and pasta salads, and no-cook kebabs are just a few of the many options you have for cold meals.

4. Make Homemade Ice Pops

Everyone loves a cold treat when the weather is sweltering hot, but store-bought popsicles tend to be loaded with added sugar. You can make healthier alternatives by pureeing whole fruit and freezing it into popsicle molds. You can even add protein using Greek yogurt to transform the humble ice pop into a filling hot-weather snack.

5. Pack Your Own Travel Food

Airports and highway exits aren't known for their healthy meal options. But if you don't plan ahead, you'll have no choice but to grab an overpriced, under-nourishing fast food meal when traveling. Eat well even when you're on the go by packing convenient travel foods. Fresh fruit, mixed nuts, and 100-percent-whole-grain crackers are convenient for air travel; avoid food that needs refrigeration and liquids larger than 3.4 ounces. Car travel offers more flexibility because you can pack a cooler. Dippable raw vegetables, wraps, and fresh berries are sure to keep the family satiated on the road.

Summer is thought of as the time of year for eating well and slimming down before the holidays roll around. But in reality, hot weather and busy schedules send many people reaching for convenience foods loaded with added sugars and other empty calories. That's not only bad for your weight, it also has implications for your physical and mental health. If you want your family to enjoy their best health this summer, make your diet a top priority.

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