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The right foods for a healthier you

Published June 12. 2019 12:30PM


Summer is at your doorstep, which means you may have already started daydreaming about warm afternoons outside, beach-side vacations, street fairs and road trips.

But the sunny season is also a chance to adopt some new healthy eating practices.

“A lot of fresh, healthy foods are more appealing with the heat,” Kelly Layton, registered dietitian in the Lehigh Valley Health Network, said. “We start seeing them everywhere.”

When people hear the words “healthy eating,” the first thought that pops in their head is often restriction. (Cut out this, eat less of that.)

Layton said she often advises the opposite.

“You should add fruits. You should add fiber. You should add more fluids,” Layton said. “It’s making sure that you enjoy the foods that you like, but there’s also the good stuff in there, too.”

Only 7% of people in the St. Luke’s University Health Network service area consume five or more servings of fruit or vegetables per day, according to its 2019-2022 Community Health Needs Assessment.

“Regardless of who you are, what your weight is, whether you’re a healthy person or whether you’re somebody that already has a lot of chronic diseases,” Layton said, “I think at all stages it’s important to be conscious of what you’re putting in your body.

“Everybody could make small improvements,” she said.

Here are five ways Layton says you can be healthier this season.

1. Buy in bulk

Farmers market produce is not only more fresh than store bought, it can be cheaper, too. Layton said it’s good practice to buy your seasonal melons, cherries and berries in bulk and freeze them for future use.

That way, you can cut back on sugar — which can give you more energy and even help with depression — by making your own smoothies and sorbets all season long.

Your mind and pockets will thank you.

2. Switch up your salads

Not every salad needs a kale base.

When you’re looking for a healthy side to add to the picnic table, Layton said, consider whipping up a fruit medley or grain salad.

“Healthy salads can be a lot of things,” she said. “They’re not just leafy greens.”

She noted that mayo-based dishes, like potato or pasta salads, are best avoided (or at least eaten in moderation.)

3. Don’t give up on the grill

Eating healthy this summer doesn’t mean you have to keep your coals cool all season.Who doesn’t love a summer cookout?

But it does mean you should watch what you put on the grill. Layton recommends opting for unprocessed, uncured meats; switch that hot dog or brat for a flame-grilled chicken and vegetable kebab or turkey burger.

4. Stay hydrated

You’re thirstier in the summer.

The hotter the climate, the more water you need to stay hydrated. But the juice, soda or store-bought smoothies you’re reaching for to quench your thirst aren’t going to do the job, Layton said.

“We definitely want to hydrate more, but make sure we avoid those sugared beverages,” Layton said. “Those don’t really help to hydrate us.”

5. Liven up your line of sight.

Spring cleaning should extend to your pantry, according to Layton.

Part of cleaning your kitchen, she noted, is making sure fruit and vegetables are within reach.

“You want to make healthy food visible, convenient, on the counter, easy to see, easy to reach,” Layton said.


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