When summertime rolls around, I find that some aspects of healthy eating get easier (so much delicious fresh produce! veggies on the grill! farmers markets!) while other areas of nutrition seem to become a little bit...neglected. While you might be filling your home up with lots of fruit and veggies, you might also find yourself saying yes to a lot of activities that aren't necessarily in line with your goals. Spontaneous ice cream stops! Days spent lounging at a favorite brewery! Meals that consistent entirely of watermelon!
Here's the good news: I don't think summertime is necessarily the time to try and stick to a complicated or super strict nutrition plan (despite what all of those "bikini body" programs might be telling you). I'm not saying you're should go totally wild and forget about your nutrition at all, but I do think that you're better served by just focusing on small but effective methods for maintaining a healthy, happy body even when life is busy (and especially at a time when you may have extra opportunities for fun and travel).
Take a look at these three basic strategies for healthier summer eating. Give some of them a shot and rest easy knowing you don't need to spend your summer days worrying about complicated meal plans.
1) Incorporate a daily S.
While you might not be inclined to do a major diet overhaul when you're also traveling, vacationing, and generally staying busy during the warmer months, you can easily upgrade just one meal a day. Incorporate a daily "S" to help you stay focused: a smoothie, a salad, or a simple meal that focuses primarily on protein and vegetables. By making one of your daily meals fit into this category, it will be easier for you to stay on track and ensure that you're still focusing on your nutrition and health without having to do a ton of planning or preparation. Just one veggie-strong meal a day goes a long way toward supporting a healthy body.
2) Stay hydrated.
Despite the fact that summer weather means we should be extra focused on drinking water and staying well hydrated, this rule can sometimes accidentally slip by the wayside. Ensure that you're drinking at least 60 ounces of water a day (spread throughout the day--not chugged in one sitting), and possibly more if you're especially active or in a particularly hot climate. Remember, water is essential for keeping everything in your body running happily. It's good for your brain, it helps your organs remove toxins, it keeps your digestion on point, it helps you stay cool, and it supports your muscles and joints. It also can be helpful in preventing mindless snacking and overeating. Keep sipping throughout the day and think of this habit as the foundation for your summer health.
3) Avoid eating carbs alone.
To clarify, this doesn't mean you should eat carbs with a buddy instead. ;) While sticking to a strict meal plan during a busy summer can feel impossible, one simple way to stay on track with your health and goals is to avoid eating meals or snacks that are entirely made up of carbohydrates. Eating carb-heavy meals causes your blood sugar to spike and then crash, which means your energy levels will be unstable (impacting your mood too!) and you'll find yourself quickly reaching for more food to balance your body out. Instead, ensure that each meal or snack you consume includes a combination of macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Combining these together helps your body stay full longer and keeps your energy levels stable, making your body much happier. So while you might be tempted to eat half a watermelon and call it a meal, you'll be much better off if you pair that watermelon with some fat and/or protein. This is such a simple technique that makes a huge difference in how you eat, and it doesn't require much planning or effort. Ideas for easy balanced snacks might include things like:
- Almond butter + toast
- Fruit + olives
- Hard boiled egg + fruit
- Guacamole + baby carrots
- Turkey + slices of cheese
- Tuna + homemade (or good quality store bought) mayo + toast
- Green smoothie that includes a little fruit + healthy fats (coconut, almond butter, chia seeds, etc) and protein (hemp seeds, good quality protein powder, collagen powder, etc.)
I love making little "snack plates" that consist of a few different foods (usually hard boiled eggs, a slice of cheese and some olives, and a piece of fruit or some chopped veggies) and eating those as mini meals. They're quick, simple, and help me ensure that I fit in some real food (even when I'm caught up in other summer fun activities).
Remember, eating well should always be as easy as possible. Set yourself up for success by choosing strategies that fit into your life and that you can realistically follow--even when the seasons change, life gets busy, or you're traveling a lot.