As days get longer and temperatures rise, we become conscious of our eating habits as we prepare for summer fun and relaxation at the beach. In reality, eating well should be at the top of your mind all year long. Whole-food nutrients are key for holistic wellness, and eating healthy at every meal has its advantages too.

What are the benefits to eating healthy?

A balanced diet can help you get the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your body in tip-top shape. While you can achieve a healthy diet with supplements, eating healthy has benefits that are hard to ignore.

A healthy diet can help you control health issues such as: - Cholesterol levels - Heart disease - High blood pressure - Type 2 diabetes

In addition to physical benefits, a healthy diet can improve your mood and help improve mental health (i.e. depression and anxiety) as well.

How to start eating healthier

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion offers dietary guidelines that are easy to digest and understand. The big takeaway is to always consider your caloric intake and limit saturated and trans fats - as well as any added sugars or sodium. Try to eat whole fruits, whole grains, and all colors of vegetables.

Unfortunately, most Americans have unhealthy diets, commonly filling their shopping carts with high calorie junk foods, instead of nutrient-dense snacks. Thankfully there are easy ways to rid your diet of bad-for-you snacks and replace it with good-for-you equivalents.

Instead of fried chicken, go for baked chicken with herbs. Instead of creamed spinach, steam it! Forget peaches drenched in syrup and instead pick up fresh peaches (or frozen without added sugars).

Use the USDA’s MyPlate guide to create the right balance of items on your plate at each meal.

Start cooking!

Now that you’re well informed and ready to invest in a healthy diet, it’s time to start cooking and head to the kitchen. If you’re looking for something yummy, good for you, and rich in nutrients, try our Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup. It will keep you full, instead of leaving you hungry for a sugary dessert.