Summertime, and the living is easy, but the warmer weather does call for some nutritional changes to occur to not only nourish our bodies effectively and keep us healthy, but also to encourage us to take advantage of the abundance of opportunities that are not easily accessible during other times of the year. Summer brings an abundance of tasty and nutritious foods, including berries (loaded with antioxidants), tomatoes, sweet bell peppers (good vitamin C source), and protein-filled grilled fish and lean burgers. And by simply choosing the right ones to add to your daily diet, your body can benefit tremendously! Here are 10 smart nutrition tips to remember this summer:
1. Stay hydrated. Water helps to make all of your bodily functions work properly, including assisting with proper digestion and keeping your energy levels revved up. In the summer, it is vital to stay hydrated, especially since the extra perspiration and the summer sun can dry you out. Drink the minimum of eight glasses of water per day and eat foods that have a high water content (i.e, watermelon, celery, cucumbers, etc). Try to get in other forms of water as well. It’s a fact that if you are feeling thirsty you are already facing dehydration.
2. Eat more berries. It is summer time and the berries and fresh fruit are abundant! Berries are not only delicious and refreshing, but they also assist your body in using water and keeping you hydrated. They are full of antioxidants that help your body restore and replenish. Berries really are some of the best foods that you can add to your diet in the summer.
3. Eat plenty of raw fresh, local fruit and vegetables. Baby, it is hot outside! So, why not keep those meals cooler by increasing your salad intake. Not only do they keep you cool, but fresh, raw foods contain a higher percentage of nutrients and they taste better. In season summer vegetables contain large amounts of fiber, making you feel fuller, longer, and helping your body manage blood sugar levels more effectively. There are a number of fruits that have a high water content. Consuming them increases your fluid intake without really trying. And, try to buy local, in season produce! Shopping at your local farmer’s market is a terrific way to find out which foods are in season in your area.
4. Get in your protein. Many people tend to reduce their protein intake during the warmer months of the year. Your body just doesn’t crave all of those meats in hot weather. However, you don’t want to neglect protein altogether. If you need a break from animal proteins, find relief in raw nuts and other plant sources. Protein is an important part of your diet. Plus, it’s going to help your hair stay healthy which can be tough in the summer months with all of the warm weather and chlorinated swimming!
5. Add vegetables to the grill. One way that people do get their protein in during the summer is by grilling meat on the barbecue. That’s great (especially if you’re choosing smart, lean cuts of meat). However, you shouldn’t neglect the opportunity to get in some other important nutrition during this time as well by adding vegetables to the grill. Make some shish kebabs or simply add veggies to the top of the grill so that you’re getting more than just your protein every time that you barbecue.
6. Get enough potassium. Many people tend to be more active in the summer months. Unfortunately, sweating during the summer months can cause muscle problems because it throws off your electrolytes. You can avoid this problem by making sure that you get enough potassium into your diet during the summer months. Without it, you may experience confusion, fatigue, and cramping and heart problems. Begin your healthier intake of potassium today with foods like bananas, cantaloupe and green leafy vegetables.
7. Eat smaller portions. Eating a large, heavy meal can put us in a “tryptophan coma” and make us feel tired and sluggish, instead of refueled and energetic. Eating smaller meals more frequently “stokes the fire” on your metabolism and helps to keep our hunger at bay. There is less chance of overeating when you are satisfied.
8. Eat fruit smoothies instead of ice cream. It’s tempting to eat some foods during the summer that really don’t offer the best nutrition for you. Ice cream is a terrific example of a summer food like this. Learn to make substitutions so that you’re eating foods that are just as refreshing but a lot healthier for you. Substituting fruit smoothing (made from fresh fruit, raw coconut or coconut butters, and/or raw milk, if dairy is part of your diet) for your ice cream is a great example of how to do it.
9. Make sure that your food is fresh. All of that great nutrition that you’re getting from following these other tips is going to go right out the window if you make yourself sick by eating foods that aren’t fresh. This is a particular concern in the summer because the temperatures get warmer and foods spoil more quickly. Make sure that you pay extra careful attention to the freshness of meats and seafood.
10. Wear your food. As important as it is to be concerned about what you put into your body, it is just as important to be concerned what goes on your body! Coconut and olive oils are both fantastic skin and hair softeners to help negate the sun-drying effects on the body. Pure aloe soothes a sunburn. Ground almonds and oatmeal make for a luxurious way to exfoliate the skin and allow the natural sun-kissed skin to glow. Cucumber slices soothe tired, sun-strained eyes. Puréed avocado and fresh fruits soothe varying ailments. Let your inner chef shine!
Summertime doesn’t just involve trying to keep cool. If you want to feel recharged and renewed, feed your body well and follow the summer nutrition tips above.