It's summer which, for most of us, means the time of year when we feel the need to eat a little bit more healthily and move our bodies that little bit more in order to look and, importantly, feel our very best whilst revealing that little bit more skin.
And yet, ironically, summer is also the time when we often indulge in foods that are high in empty calories and treats which serve to sabotage our best efforts at eating healthily.
So, in this article I wanted to explore some healthier alternatives to some of our favourite holiday foods that taste just as good but are better for our health and waistline.
Here are my top five:
1 // Crisps -> Kale Crisps
Crisps are empty calories, and, depending upon how they're cooked, may also be a source of the dreaded trans fats. At around 200 kcals per bag they're an easy way to put on weight.
Swap: Kale crisps. For those of us who love the salty crunch of crisps, kale crisps are an excellent alternative. A serving of kale will provide your daily recommended requirement of both vitamin A and C as well as a healthy dose of calcium and folate. At just 56 kcals per cup these are a healthy and low calorie snack.
2 // Low-fat salad dressings - > Olive Oil with garlic and lemon
Dressings are added to salads to give some, often, much needed moisture and taste but also to provide some healthy fat to assist with the digestion and absorption of the nutrients contained within the vegetables and fruits. Therefore eating fat-free or low-fat salad dressings defeats the purpose. What's more, most of these dressings also contain sugar and artificial flavourings and additives.
Swap: Extra Virgin Olive Oil with garlic and lemon juice. Make your own healthy salad dressing using olive oil with a clove of crushed garlic and some fresh lemon juice. With this delicious option you are getting the benefits of vitamins from the lemon juice, the anti-inflammatory properties of garlic and the multitude of health advantages from the olive oil.
3 // White rolls and burger buns - > Wholemeal bread
With the summer comes 'the barbecue' and with the barbecue comes processed, white rolls and burger buns. This type of bread is a simple carbohydrate, stripped of fibre and nutrients.
Swap: Wholemeal bread. Wholemeal bread contains more fibre and more nutrients and has a lower glycaemic load helping to keep you fuller for longer. It's also tastier requiring fewer unhealthy condiments to add the much needed flavour!
4 // Croutons -> Nuts and seeds
Summer salads are often full of delicious crunchy and salty croutons but they are a high calorie source of food, empty of nutrients.
Swap: Nuts and seeds. A healthy source of unsaturated fats they enable your body to absorb the nutrients from the salad you're eating. Vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat soluble vitamins, which mean that your body can only absorb them when they are consumed alongside fat. Nuts and seeds are also full of fibre helping to keep you fuller for longer.
5 // Ice-cream - > Frozen yoghurt
Ice cream is definitely a firm summer favourite but it can often be a very high fat and high sugar option.
Swap: Frozen yoghurt. Frozen yoghurt outlets are everywhere now and provide an excellent alternative. It's lower in calories, fat and sugar and often contains the good bacteria that help the gut work properly. If you're given the option, add some raw nuts and fresh fruit to the top for a healthy, filling, summer treat!