Your checklist for a healthy summer (part 2): You are what you eat

Urban Upscale has developed a 3-part checklist so you have the information you need to make this your best summer yet. Part2, below, focuses on healthy eating. Part 1 offers a quick list for leveling up your physical activity. Watch for part 3, with a list for mental/emotional fitness.

Let’s face it, maintaining a healthy diet is easier said than done. After a long day at work and fighting traffic all the way home, sometimes convenience outweighs the healthy choice. Here are a few suggestions to help make it easier for you to make the right decision—at least most of the time.

  1. Have a plan: Meal planning has exploded as a concept over the past several years, and with good reason. Take time during the weekend to plan lunches or dinners (or both) for the entire week, which makes a healthy meal the most convenient option. To get started, check out websites like Kitchn or SkinnyTaste or search “meal planning” on YouTube. Either way, you’ll find tons of great ideas with step-by-step instructions and even a list of online meal planning apps.
  2. Upgrade unhealthy recipes: Hold on—no one’s talking about a total remake of your mom’s mac and cheese recipe. And there’s not a one-size-fits-all makeover for classic soul food recipes. But there are some simple options to improve the overall nutritional value of some of our favorite dishes. Check out websites like iHeartRecipes, Divas Can Cook or Cooking with Carolyn for great recipes, many of which offer healthy options. Replacing the pork in your greens with smoked turkey is just the tip of the iceberg.
  3. Think ahead when dining out: When you arrive at a restaurant hungry and without a plan, things go wrong. You order an appetizer and before that’s finished you’ve already ordered your meal. Have a plan. Before leaving home have a large glass of water or a piece of fruit, just so you’re not famished before you reach your table. Also, look at the menu online and decide on a healthy option before getting to the restaurant. Once you’re seated, place your order without looking at the menu so you don’t change your mind. The last time my husband and I dined at Morton’s, I ordered the miso marinated sea bass without even looking at the medium rare filet I typically choose. (That’s a 300-calorie win for me, although I did get the side-eye from my husband for ordering fish at one of our favorite steakhouses.) You can also see nutritional information for many fast food or fast casual restaurants on the CalorieKing website.
  4. Track your calories: I know, this seems like a lot. It’s not fair that smaller foods (like Snickers) have more calories than larger foods (like cantaloupe). This is why a calorie counter app can be useful. Not only do they track calories, which is important if you’re trying to manage your weight, but they also track nutritional components so you’re aware of your intake of fat, sodium and other macronutrients. My favorite is LoseIt, but MyFitnessPal is another good option. 

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