With summer comes ice cream in the warm evenings, hot dogs at the baseball game and popsicles by the pool. With all that fun, it can be easy to lose track of nutrition goals you might have set for yourself. While there is no problem with enjoying your ice cream, these healthy summer nutrition swaps can help you balance summer fun and maintain healthy habits.
Add some fresh produce to your meal plan
Check out a nearby farmers market for some in season produce or an orchard for a family friendly berry picking activity. Once you’ve gathered your fruit or veggies, here are some easy recipes to try.
Mediterranean summer tomatoes
Slice five fresh tomatoes and arrange them in a serving dish. Sprinkle coarsely chopped shallots on top. Whisk ½ cup olive oil and ¼ cup balsamic vinegar and then pour over the tomatoes. Refrigerate covered for up to three days, and serve with French bread.
Watermelon cucumber salad
Soak half of a thinly sliced red onion in cold water. Pat dry four cups of diced watermelon and one seeded and sliced cucumber, and toss with a handful of thinly sliced mint. Drain the onion, squeeze dry and add to the salad along with some chopped cashews. Add ¼ cup olive oil and the juice of ½ lemon. Season with salt and toss. Top with crumbled goat cheese.
Ditch the “beach ready” diet plans
Instead of drastic changes and deprivation, focus on having balanced meals and a balanced lifestyle. Aim to get at least 1-2 servings of a fruit and/or vegetables with every meal and add a variety of protein sources daily.
Remember, you don’t have to be a certain weight to enjoy lounging by the pool in your swimsuit. If weight is a concern of yours, talk with a registered dietitian to find a healthy weight range that fits your lifestyle.
Pace yourself at a barbecue
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is showing up starving. Don’t skip meals in advance and, if you’re able, come prepared with a dish to share that fits into your goals.
At any event, do an initial overview of what’s available and take a minute to decide what you want. If you are following a kidney friendly diet, choose the lower potassium sides like grilled squash or zucchini. Following a diabetic diet? Load up on the vegetables before digging into the macaroni and potato salads. If you are taking blood thinners such as Warfarin, be cautious of your portions of the coleslaw and broccoli salads.
Pace yourself throughout the event and listen to your body cues. Sometimes it can be as simple as hanging out away from the food table to avoid overeating.
It’s important to keep hydrated, especially during the heat of the summer. Calories from beverages can add up quickly so your best option is typically plain or fruit infused water. Keep a reusable bottle with you to stay hydrated throughout the day. Some higher water foods can contribute to your fluid intake as well such as tomatoes, melons and berries.
Summer can be a busy time of year for most. With travel and activities frequently planned, it’s easy to rely on fast food restaurants. Before heading out, pack some healthier snacks to avoid the drive through for every meal. Some ideas include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables, washed, peeled, cut and ready to eat with prepacked individual servings of dips like guacamole, ranch or hummus
- No sugar added dried fruits or squeezable packets
- Yogurt cups or drinkable yogurt smoothies
- Trail mix, nuts or nut butter packets
- Low sodium jerky
- Cheese sticks
- Roasted chickpeas
- Tuna or chicken salad
- Sandwiches or wraps (to avoid soggy bread keep it simple with meat and cheese or pack toppings and individual condiments on the side and make when ready to eat)
It’s true what they say that time flies when you’re having fun, so enjoy your summer! To help you stay on track toward your goals, don’t forget these summer nutrition swaps—try some new recipes, be mindful of portion sizes, drink water, plan ahead and enjoy those summer treats and memories being made.
Alyssa Crouch, MS, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian nutritionist at MidAmerica Rehabilitation Hospital.