Healthy summer eating can be a challenge. You might have meals at different times, or you may tend to snack a lot when you visit with friends. Plus, sugary and high-calorie foods ( ice cream, anyone?) are calling your name when the weather heats up!
While it’s okay to indulge in a treat every now and then, there are a few things you can do to keep junk-food cravings and dehydration at bay. Here are six tips for eating healthy this summer:
1. Eat breakfast every morning.
Breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day! While eating breakfast is essential year-round, don’t forget to eat as soon as you wake up during the summer — even if you’ve slept in. This will help you start your day off right by fueling your body and speeding up your metabolism, which slowed down while you were sleeping.
It may be tempting to munch on a Pop-Tart or another sugary breakfast food while you’re on vacation, but try to eat whole grains and/or protein for your morning meal instead. Oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and whole-grain cereals are great choices for breakfast, since they’ll give you the energy you need to carry on with a beautiful summer day!
2. Make fruits and veggies your new best friends.
Fruits and vegetables peak during the summer, which means they’ll cost less at the grocery store and taste the best this time of year. You can also make a family event out of produce shopping by visiting your local farmer’s market. This is a great way to support area farmers, shop local, and feel more connected to your community.
Many people are actually less hungry in the summertime, or they crave lighter, cooler foods (like produce) that take the edge off the heat. You can take advantage of this by eating things like salads, fresh fruit medleys, and grilled chicken and veggie kebabs. Not only can healthy summer eating taste great; it lets you get out of the hot kitchen!
3. Drink water all day, every day.
Drinking plenty of water is always essential to staying healthy, especially in the heat of the summer. It nourishes your skins, lets your muscles work properly, and keeps you full between meals. Increasing your water intake during the summer can also prevent hyperthermia and heat stroke by keeping your body cool.
To stay hydrated, bring a reusable, insulated water bottle with you wherever you go, and refill it often. In addition to drinking water, you can get H20 by enjoying produce with a high water content. Remember: Fruits and veggies are your new best friends! Look for cucumber, watermelon, pineapple, tomatoes, and other water-dense summer staples.
4. Travel with healthy snacks.
A vacation doesn’t have to derail your healthy summer eating plan. Before you travel, pack healthy to-go snacks like pre-cut veggies and hummus, unsalted nuts, and whole-grain crackers and peanut butter. You’ll avoid temptation from greasy fast food or sugary gas station snacks, and you’ll save money!
This tip also applies if you’re staying in a hotel suite with a food prep space, or an Airbnb with a kitchen. Buying fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole-grain bread to keep in your room or condo lets you cut down on the number of times you’ll eat out at restaurants with salty, high-calorie dishes.
5. Be intentional, even at special events!
It’s easy to let your healthy summer eating goals fly out the window when you’re at a restaurant or a small gathering with loved ones. But intentional portion control is still important during these situations — not to starve or deprive yourself, but to choose foods that will actually fill you up without slowing you down.
Try filling half your plate with vegetables, then adding 4-5 ounces of protein, and finishing your meal with ½ cup of carbs. You can also enjoy a small dessert (3-4 bites, like a cookie or mini cheesecake).
If you’re at a restaurant or barbecue, weigh your options before digging in. For example, you could skip the burger bun, or you could pass on potato salad in favor of green veggies. And while a friend’s outdoor summer wedding may already have a pre-set menu, choose a lean protein like chicken or fish if that’s an option.
6. Don’t feel guilty for treating yourself.
Summer is the perfect time for ice cream with the family, barbecues with friends, and drinks on the patio with coworkers. And when you’re on vacation, the occasional treat can help you enjoy your getaway that much more. After all, who wants to spend their summer worrying about sugar and calories when there’s too much fun to be had?
You should be able to enjoy these things in moderation without feeling guilty or depriving yourself! Just make an effort to get back to your healthy summer eating plan tomorrow. (And if you overindulged yesterday? Water, fruits, and vegetables will help you recover and feel much better today.)
With these healthy summer eating tips, you can stick to your wellness plan and personal goals while still enjoying delicious foods. And don’t forget, those ice cream cones are okay in moderation. After all, you should enjoy your summer!
If you’re looking for guidance on setting personal goals and sticking to a healthy eating plan this summer, a local wellness coach can help.
The Lafayette Family YMCA is a community dedicated to healthy living and social responsibility. For more fitness tips and to stay up to date about YMCA events, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.