12 healthy food hacks for summer

Health and Fitness
With the arrival of a fresh season, we often start thinking about shedding excess kilos as we awaken from hibernation.

I was chatting to a client this week about little tips she could do to make a healthy eating work for her. “These are such great hacks” she said.

I used to hate that terminology, especially when it came to food. I mean, you’re not a computer. You can’t just hack into your hard drive and ‘voila!’ You’re a healthy eater. It doesn’t work like that.

However, I’ve decided that any tip I can offer that helps make this process of changing your eating habits easier, then I’m the healthy food hacker for you!

So, in the spirit of new seasons and the opportunity to make some healthy changes, here are my healthy food hacks to get you started this summer!

1. Infuse your water

There isn’t anything magical about doing this, apart from the fact that fresh mint, cucumber slices, lime and lemon wedges, frozen berries and orange slices can turn your water into something that you want to drink lots of. Good hydration is vital for weight management, concentration, healthy skin and heaps more!

2. Brush your teeth after a meal

If you find it difficult not to follow lunch or dinner with something sweet, brushing your teeth can really help take the cravings away. Peppermint is an appetite suppressant and you won’t want to dirty your clean teeth!

3. Cook healthy carbohydrate sources in bulk

Brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato and whole meal pasta can be cooked up in large amounts, separated into snap lock bags or containers and frozen in individual portions. That way you’ve always got something on hand to throw into a meal. A smart carbohydrate source at a main meal means you’re less likely to pick a not-so-smart carbohydrate in-between meals.

4. Focus on including more nutrient rich foods into your diet

Rather than focusing on the foods you should be cutting out. Are you eating enough vegetables? 2 pieces of fruit? Start there.

5. Let your ‘motivated self’, look after your ‘lazy self’

You don’t have to be an upbeat, motivated, go get ‘em, bad ass all the time. It’s just not possible, and that’s ok. When you’re feeling like cooking or prepping food, make the most of that time and prepare food for those times when you don’t have time or find it difficult.

For some reason, I can’t deal on Thursdays. Not sure why. Thursdays just make me slow down and obsess over the weight of the world’s problems. So, I plan for that and aim for easy options or re-heated leftovers for lunch and dinner.

6. Don’t abstain from your favourite foods

Learn how to include them in a balanced way. I enjoy chocolate and I eat it if I feel like it. I often grab a small quantity of something high quality and then serve it with a plate of fresh berries!

7. Pre-marinate your meat, chicken or fish

Healthy eating is so much more enjoyable when you’re eating food that you actually enjoy. One of the ways we bring enjoyment to food is by adding different flavours and keeping it varied and different. Try adding lamb or chicken pieces with lemon, garlic, oregano and olive oil into a snap lock bag or container and freezing. Then all you have to do is defrost and cook! Another easy combo is Moroccan spice mix, olive oil and lemon juice. Lime juice, soy sauce and ginger is also a winner. Give it a try.

8. Mash an avocado with lemon juice, salt and pepper and keep it in the fridge in an airtight container

Then you have a delicious, healthy spread for your next piece of toast or cracker.

9. Store your fruit and vegetables in PeakFresh bags

They’re amazing, green bags that keep produce ripe and edible in your fridge for up to two weeks or more! Yep, they’re awesome and work incredibly well, especially for foods like strawberries, capsicums, cucumbers, broccoli, beans, sugar snap peas, snow peas, carrots, Asian greens, fresh herbs and green leafy salad. I started using them a few years ago and I can’t live without them. No more wilty basil for me!

10. Keep your kitchen stocked with healthy wholefood staples

It means you’ve always got something quick and easy on hand. Thinks foods like canned beans, chickpeas, lentils and corn kernels, tinned tuna, salmon and sardines, eggs, popcorn, frozen berries, frozen vegetables, ricotta and cottage cheese, natural yoghurt, oats, raw nuts and seeds.

I’m addicted to containers. They are amazing and when I do a grocery shop, all I have to do is check the fridge/freezer/pantry and write my list based on which containers are running low. I then add in my perishable items and fresh produce and my shopping list is done!

11. Make your own muesli

Worried about the added sugar in store-bought muesli or don’t like some of the ingredients? Why not make your own? I love doing this. You can save heaps of money by buying the raw ingredients in bulk and then you can create a muesli combo that is as individual as you! If you’re weight conscious, go easy on the nuts, seeds, coconut oil, honey or syrup. Too much fat or sugar may halt your weight loss efforts.

12. Make vegetables easy

They are the cornerstone of a healthy diet. No doubt about it! Chop up a big bowl of salad: 1x bag lettuce, 1x cucumber, 1x capsicum, 1x carrot, 1x punnet of cherry tomatoes. It’ll take you less than 5 minutes (time yourself) and cost you less than $15. You then have an easy vegetable side to add to anything that you’re eating.

Do the same for cooked vegetables. A container of chopped capsicum, carrot, beans, broccoli, etc can easily be thrown into a wok as a stir fry or potato, pumpkin, carrot, zucchini and beetroot can be easily thrown into a tray and roasted. Set yourself up for success!

Kate Freeman is HRI's resident nutritionist. She is a Registered Nutritionist and managing director of the Healthy Eating Hub. Kate Freeman consults, writes, presents and mentors in the field of nutrition and has over 10 years of experience in the industry. 

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