I often hear from clients, friends and family that is very difficult to maintain healthy habits throughout the summer. With long winters and a relatively short patio, bbq and cottage season, it is difficult to resist the temptation and overindulge with food and drinks.
I’m a strong believer in a balanced approach to nutrition and healthy living. I think having fun and enjoying the pleasures of life, including food, drinks and social connection, is part of living a healthy lifestyle but I see many of us get carried away during the summer and want to have ALL the fun at once!
The problem with this, is that we go into excesses and more often than not, we end up feeling sluggish, bloated, and overall unwell. The good news is we can still enjoy ourselves and feel WELL by being doing some minor tweaks to how we approach the summer months.
Here are some various habits and strategies I’ve incorporated over the last several years to stay healthy, energized and in my best possible weight over the summer:
- Drink a glass of warm pure water with some lemon first thing in the morning to gently detoxify the liver;
- Start your day on the right foot by having a well-balanced breakfast. Some of my favorite breakfasts include oats with nuts and blueberries or a smoothie of spinach, ½ banana, a scoop of protein powder and 1 tbsp. of almond butter;
- Don’t forget your veggies: summer is a great time of the year to introduce more raw vegetables and enjoy lighter meals. One great way to ensure you are eating your veggies and having a healthy meal is to have a gigantic salad for lunch. Try to fit in your veggies earlier on the day so that you meet your daily quota of fiber, antioxidants and nutrient-dense food;
- Choose real, wholesome foods most of the time: real food is packed with nutrients, while processed foods are voided of nutrients. Nutrients contribute to healthier bodies and minds, more energy, better metabolism and balanced weight among others. Try to choose foods that are in their closest state to nature as possible. Nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, good quality grains among others belong to the “category of real food”. A handful of nuts and a piece of fruit is always the better option over a packaged snack;
- Take advantage of the heat of the summer to load your body with water: choose a good source of water such as filtered water and drink up!
- Stay active: move your body this summer! Choose something you enjoy and make time for it every day. Summer is a great time of the year to switch up your exercise routine so if you’re feeling bored of the same old routine, change things up. Everything counts! Walks in nature, cleaning the garage, gardening, dancing, going for a jog, etc.;
- Try new restaurant options when hanging out with friends: I know, we all have those favorite places we like to frequent… and more likely than not, they offer limited healthy foods/drinks. But why not try something new? The city is blooming with restaurants that offer healthier foods such as salads, bowls, wraps, smoothies, etc. Next time you set a date, make a point to visit a new spot, one that offers plenty of healthy options so that you can minimize temptation;
- Beware of “sugar bombs”: yup, this one has to go on the list! Summer is a great time to enjoy cold beverages but did you know most frapes and smoothies are loaded with sugar and all kinds of additives? Next time you grab one of these, ask for a list of ingredients and stay away from added sugars and strange ingredients you can’t pronounce. I personally avoid smoothies that have added sugars such as agave and honey and stay away from those that contain high-sugar fruits because they make me feel sluggish and overall unwell. Opt for iced teas and kombucha without added sugars as well as low sugar smoothies and cold press juices;
- Enjoy a glass (or two) of wine or of your favorite alcoholic drink: but maybe not six, or eight, or ten… this is where I see most attempts to lead a healthy lifestyle go off the rails (along with too many visits to restaurants). I love a glass of good wine with my food and I do have it but I advise people to watch their alcoholic intake, especially if they are trying to lose or maintain their weight, increase their energy, improve bone health and be healthy overall. Alcohol can be quite loading to your liver and we want to be kind to our livers so that they can carry their amazing function without so much stress;
- If you went overboard, forgive yourself and remember tomorrow is a new day: you probably know that our bodies listen to our thoughts. So, guess what happens every time we beat ourselves up for our less-than-stellar choices? The body is likely to respond by feeling even worse. The best thing we can all do is to take a deep breath and start at the top of the list… go grab that glass of lemon water and think of how great you’re going to feel tomorrow when today you decide to have a ton of veggies and go a looooooong walk. What’s done is done so let’s learn and move on!
Have a happy, healthy summer!