When you’re on vacation, it’s normal to ditch your regular meals in favor of eating unhealthy food. That’s why when summer vacation rolls around, it can be easy for people to forget about their healthy habits – food included.
Chloe Plummer, MS, RD, LD, works with clients through the ProMedica Food Clinic, where she provides healthy food to patients who screen for food insecurity at their ProMedica doctor’s office. It may be a patient who is struggling to consistently put healthy food on the table for their family, or someone who is having to make the difficult decision between buying groceries and paying for medications.
The Food Clinic also provides nutrition education and healthy eating information to help families make healthy choices long-term, so Plummer is no stranger to healthy substitution suggestions that can make a huge difference for your health.
“Consider swapping just two cans of regular soda for two cans of sparkling water every day,” says Plummer. “This would reduce your calorie intake by about 300 calories each day. It would also mean 20 teaspoons worth of sugar eliminated from your diet daily.”
Here are more of Plummer’s helpful food substitution tips that can make a huge difference.
The summer season has perfect swaps for food.
When thinking of good snacks for summer, Plummer imagines fresh fruits and vegetables first. With the wide variety in season, it’s less expensive than other times of the year to buy fresh. Many fruits and vegetables are also at their peak flavor.
“It is also easy to buy fresh, local fruits and vegetables by stopping by a local farmer’s market,” says Plummer.
She also suggests replacing chips and dip with crunchy slices of cucumbers or celery and hummus. Additionally, Plummer suggests trying watermelon instead of candy or sweets.
“A cucumber, watermelon, feta salad can be a delicious combination if you’re looking for a summer side for your next cookout,” says Plummer.
There are healthy drink and dessert substitutions, too.
In terms of drinks, Plummer looks to fruit again as a great way to spruce up your drinks this summer season. She suggests letting fresh fruit soak in a pitcher of water overnight for an easy fruit-infused water.
“Sparkling waters are also a popular choice,” says Plummer. “They quench your thirst on a hot day while being calorie-free and sugar-free.”
For dessert, Plummer recommends homemade frozen fruit, a yogurt pop or even a small scoop of frozen yogurt topped with fresh berries.
You can shop healthy while still minding your budget.
Though making these healthy swaps sound appealing to some, they may sometimes come at a higher price. Plummer recommends shopping at your local farmer’s market for great local deals on fresh produce during the summer. She also suggests planning ahead as one of the main keys to budgeting.
“Meal planning can help you stay on track with your budget while also meeting nutrition goals,” says Plummer.
Even just a few substitutions can make a huge difference.
Plummer knows nobody is expected to eat perfectly healthy foods all the time. The key, she says, is moderation.
“When you eat well, this helps you to feel your best,” says Plummer. “But if you’re enjoying a vacation or finding time to relax during the summer and want to indulge a bit, it’s perfectly OK to enjoy less healthy foods in moderation.”