The weather is finally getting warmer and the snow has melted; summer is officially on its way, which means BBQs, grilling, summer parties, and overall an abundance of fresh produce. Many people are more active during the summer months, but with increased social activities and vacations there can also be many opportunities to overeat.
Summer vacations are a great time for relaxing, but they can be challenging because more meals may be consumed at restaurants or on the go. If the meals are included as part of a vacation package, there may be an overabundance of foods to choose from.
Social gatherings are another challenging aspect people face during the summer months. There are many parties and summer holidays such as Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. For many people, warmer weather might also mean an excuse to consume cold treats such as ice cream or frozen yogurt more often.
Camping trips are also a struggle, as people may change their eating habits or consume less produce when in the wilderness nestled around a campfire.
Here are a few things you can do to maintain a healthy diet during the summer months:
- Take advantage of seasonal produce. The spring and summer months are the best time for produce as many fruits and vegetables are in season. There are also lots of deals on produce this time of year. When you are shopping, make sure you stock up on a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
- Take a trip to the local farmer’s market. They will have fresh, local produce and it can be a great way to make connections with local farmers. You can also feel good knowing that you are supporting your farming community.
- Grow your own garden. Gardening can be a great way to increase activity and reduce stress. All the fresh fruits and vegetables that you grow are another great benefit.
- Take advantage of the grill. This is the perfect time of year for grilling. Use the grill to cook meats, fish and vegetables. Even grilled fruit can be a delicious dessert when served with some low fat frozen vanilla yogurt.
- Buy leaner meat choices for grilling. The perfect example is choosing a leaner hamburger meat such as 90/10 or leaner. Serve the hamburger on a whole wheat bun and add vegetables. Toppings like guacamole or feta cheese can make a good hamburger into a great hamburger.
- Be smart about alcoholic beverages. Drinking a cold beer at the end of a hot summer day can be refreshing, but beer (and other cold drinks) can be high in calories. It is important to know your limit on alcohol. If your diet is overall healthy and well balanced an occasional beer is likely not going to lead to weight gain. However, having several cold beers or sugary mixed drinks could tip the calorie balance towards weight gain. Choose lighter beers if possible or drinks mixed with soda water instead of sugary sodas, mixers, or juices.
- Choose your calories wisely while on vacation. Vacation is a time to splurge, but if you splurge at every meal you might come home with an extra 5 pounds. It can be all about balance and choosing when to splurge. If you are going to a fancy dinner, then make sure you eat healthy at breakfast and lunch. If you are at an all-inclusive resort, survey what is available first and only take what you really want. Try to balance your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible.
- Quench your thirst with water and pass on the sugary beverages. Make homemade sun tea or unsweetened iced tea instead of sweetened teas. Flavor your water with lemon or lime. Try infusing your water with other fruits such as strawberries, cucumber, or melon instead of soda use sparkling water. There are many ways to stay hydrated during the summer without all the added sugar.
- Plan ahead when camping. Sit down and make a list of all the meals you will consume and try to incorporate fresh produce as much as possible. If you are serving hot dogs at a meal then make a fresh salad on the side instead of potato chips.
- Seafood can be a great protein option for summer months. Summer is a time when many of the fish options at your local grocery store are fresh.