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Posted: June 24, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Summer favorite with a healthy twist

By Kim Floyd, M.Ed., R.D., L.D.; Joycelyn Cornthwaite, M.S., R.D., L.D., CDE, ; and Kelly Shannon

Summer in Georgia means sometimes-annoying heat and humidity, but it also brings the fun of picnics, backyard parties and family BBQs. Like all Southern traditions, food is front and center – and plentiful. Food is love, friends and family are love, so more food for friends and family is often deemed better.

Unfortunately, many of our favorite Southern foods often contain a lot of unhealthy, saturated “bad” fat that contributes to Georgia’s collective weight being far greater than what is healthy for all of us. Fortunately, summer also means fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful and affordable. So, let’s blend the joy of summertime socials with making healthy choices at the same time.

Making a healthy change, even a small one, takes a little planning. Small steps are the key to making healthy changes over time and are necessary to create a healthier you. Here are a few small steps you can take:

• Eat fruits and vegetables every day. They taste extra good when they’re fresh.
• Take time to plan meals. That reduces the temptation to grab unhealthy food when you’re hungry.
• Add whole grain breads and cereals to your meals. For example, try sprinkling rolled oats on yogurt or add rolled oats to ground turkey when making meatballs.
• Watch how much you eat. At restaurants, you might be served an unhealthy amount of food. That doesn’t mean you have to eat all that food, right then! Share your order with a friend or take the extra home for another meal. That’s also a way to save money.
• Drink more water. Try adding some lemon, lime, cucumber or mint to flavor your water – and if you want to try sparkling water, go for it. Make it fun!
• Choose lower fat proteins, such as chicken without skin, and limit fried foods by enjoying baked potatoes with salsa rather than French fries.
• Think moderation, not deprivation. When the potluck picnic table offers your VFF (Very Favorite Food), help yourself to a reasonable serving and savor the taste. Do not deny yourself joy in food, but do politely decline too much food.

The Canyon Ranch Institute Savannah Partnership (CRISP) is dedicated to helping everyone in our community live a healthier life. You can join us by choosing one of these healthy recipes for your next summer party or family meal. Take a small step toward better health today!

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