Do you want to eat well during summer? How many times have you been “on a mad diet” in the run up to summer just to let it all go with ice creams, cocktails, BBQs and eating out with friends?
This boom-and-bust style eating is your one-way ticket to stress, weight gain, bloating and imbalanced hormones. The good news is that it doesn’t need to be like that. Just eating well all year round and following the 80/20 rule should mean there is no longer a need for mad diets….how refreshing would that be?!
Below are my 9 top tips for eating well over the summer
#1 Have the food you want but in the right proportions
Using the healthy food plate guide is a great way to ensure that you are eating well over the summer…and actually all the time! It is a simple approach to healthy eating and ensures that at every meal you get some protein, a little carb and plenty of the nutrient rich plants that also contain fibre for keeping your digestive system healthy and keeping you fuller for longer. The beauty of using the food plate is that you really can have what you want but it balances it better. If you are a fan of spaghetti bolognaise it means you just have less pasta, a little more meat and half a plate of salad. If you are at a BBQ with friends then have some lean meats – one roll OR some potato or pasta salad and then fill the rest of the plate with salad. If sausage and mash are your thing then go for 2 great quality sausages, a small pile of mash and fill up on vegetables for the other half of the plate…..you get the gist!
#2 Go for the smaller ice creams or make your own
Ice cream is firstly delicious and secondly high in sugars and low in nutrients. Whilst I don’t recommend cutting them out completely, I do recommend getting savvy with which ones you choose. Some of the ice creams you can go for can have almost your whole daily allowance of sugar in them. Whilst that is perfectly fine if you are not having anything else that day containing any sugar it really isn’t great to be having such a sugar hit all in one go. A lot of the branded ice creams and ice lollies are actually doing “mini” versions so you still get a little of the great taste but without the sugar and fats. This is great as it helps with generally eating well over the summer.
There are also some great brands out there offering lower sugar options such as the Little Jude’s Milk Lollies…..who says they are just for kids!
And if you want to take it one step further then why not go for some homemade options. Simply blending fruit with either natural yoghurt or coconut milk (and a drizzle of maple syrup only if really needed) and popping into a silicone mould in the freezer can create a great cold lolly with some nutrition. These silicone moulds are fab!
#3 Eat 3 meals – Don’t Graze
Digesting foods takes a lot of effort and energy and therefore the body doesn’t like us eating too often. Whilst we are busy in our working days or with chores we are in a semi (and sometimes full on) flight or fight mode. In this mode the last thing we need is for food to be going into the body as we can’t process it at that point. When we are sitting at the table and chatting and enjoying a meal we are in the rest and digest phase which is the perfect mode for digestion.
If you eat breakfast, snack mid-morning, grab lunch, snack mid-afternoon, have dinner and then pick on foods in the evening whilst watching TV your body is likely to be tired and possibly feeling bloated. It is much better to eat your 3 meals and have a maximum of one snack. You can make the meals larger too so that you feel fuller for longer. In summer it is easy to have your meals plus the odd ice cream and then nibbles with a G&T. In order to eat well over the summer you could instead eat the ice cream much closer to lunch or have the nibbles pre dinner so that you reduce the number of times you are asking the body to digest.
#4 Use the 80:20 method
No one wants to feel restricted when they are eating and this is one of the major reasons that so many dieters fail. It is not natural to under eat, cut out major food groups or eliminate the foods you love. We need to stop these kinds of behaviours and work on having a baseline healthy foundation way of eating 80% of the time and allow us to be a little “off base” for the remaining 20%. If you eat 3 meals and snack once per day then you have 28 eating occasions in the week. That means that 23-24 eating occasions should be on the base healthy diet and 4-5 can be a little less so. This allows for the odd cocktail, ice cream, BBQ outing, take away meal etc without any need to feel guilty and without sabotaging health. If you are hoping to lose weight you can be more 90:10 some weeks and less so others. This way is so much more achievable and healthier than an all or nothing restrictive diet!
#5 Keep hydrated
A simple one but one that does often get overlooked. In fact research from Opinion matters suggest 90% of Brits do not drink enough!
Being hydrated is important for our mental wellbeing, skin health, digestive health and for energy. We all need to be sipping at water throughout the day ideally. In the summer when it is hotter, we are sweating more and often more active we are at a greater chance of becoming dehydrated. Therefore, between May and September you are likely to need more water than the other months. Grab a nice big water bottle and make sure you carry it about with you and sip from it regularly. Check your urine to know if you are hydrated enough – if the wee is dark and almost an apple juice colour you are dehydrated. It needs to be a lovely pale straw colour ideally.
#6 Prioritise sleep
We are all guilty of ignoring this. Often, we feel too busy to get an early night as the evenings are a time to get everything sorted for the next day or to finally spend the evening relaxing or to see friends as the nights are lighter! BUT it is really important to ensure the body has adequate time to rest and repair. Whilst we sleep our thoughts are consolidated and our appetite hormones are reset. This is why if you don’t sleep well you can feel hungry all the next day!
So, set yourself a bedtime and stick to it. Avoid being on electronics or watching TV for an hour before bed and ideally sleep in a wonderfully dark and quiet room.
#7 Steady on the alcohol
I am definitely not telling you to give it up completely BUT we definitely need to be having alcohol in moderation. With the exception of the polyphenols in red wine, which a small glass daily, can be beneficial as part of the Mediterranean diet , alcohol provides little to no benefit to our health. It stops are sleeping well, it dehydrates us, adds to stress and the waistline.
Ideally have more days each week without alcohol than with. On nights when you do drink, aim to have a small glass of water between drinks too.
#8 Exercise daily
In the summer it's very easy to deprioritise exercise as it can be hot or you can be busy. Keeping up your exercise schedule can be really beneficial in helping you keep well, full of energy and avoiding excessive weight gain. If it is hot you may need to reduce the intensity of the exercise (brisk walk instead of run) and you’ll definitely need to increase the water.
You can also involve others with the exercise – why not have a family kick about with a football or a game of rounders with friends at the local park, go on a family bike ride or long walks in the country with friends.
Aim for around 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week ideally around 20 minutes each day.
#9 Enjoy the sun safely
We do need a little sunshine on our skin to help with Vitamin D intake as there is very little in food sources. However, it is important that we do not exposure skin for too long without sun screen to avoid sun damage.
Click here for the latest guidelines from cancer research on being safe in the sun
Enjoyed this blog? Why not read my top tips for surviving summer barbecues?
Apples to Zinc Nutrition supports people in meeting their health aspirations through diet and lifestyle tweaks. If you are interested in working with me one to one to see how I might be able to help support your health then please do book a free 30 minute call with me. Click here to do so.