Eating healthy in the summer may sound like an impossible feat. You tend to be on the go more, with less time to prepare meals. And if you have kids, they seem to be active and/or eating 24/7. So how can you make eating healthy in the summer more do-able and still have fun?
Why should you make healthy eating a priority during the summer?
Summer is supposed to be filled with vacation, activities and lots of fun foods, right? So why worry about eating healthy in the summer?
- Summer says …
Does summer remind you of the ice cream truck, popsicles and snacks galore? With so many chances to eat the sweet stuff, summer actually gives you plenty of opportunities to be intentionally healthy, too. Begin by instilling boundaries and learning/teaching about healthier choices. But allow room for enjoying special treats on occasion.
If you have kids, ask them to help create the boundaries, explain why the boundaries are so important and stick to them. This will help give them a sense of ownership and responsibility.
Example: only 1 sweet per day (any candy, cookies, juice, soda = 1 sweet) but Saturday you may have 2.
When you establish these boundaries in the summer, you are showing just how important eating healthier truly is, year round!
- Increased activity = need for more fuel.
More than likely, you work your body harder during the summer. Make sure you’re nourishing your body and not just overloading it with carbs or whatever’s handy. Also, drink plenty of water – half your body weight in ounces each day on a regular day, so even more water on a hot day or if you’re extra active.
Examples: Replace usual snack bars, chips and cookies with fresh cut veggies. Add sweet potatoes (think hash browns), spinach or mushrooms to your breakfast. When you do buy chips, choose healthier versions made from apples, kale or beets.
- You have more time, actually.
Well, so you really have the same number of minutes each day, no matter what time of year, as pointed out by “Time Ninja” mom coach, Hannah Keely. But you do have more daylight during the summer, which means more time for grilling outdoors!
Plus if you’re a stay-at-home parent, you’ve got more time to experiment in the kitchen. Grab your kiddos and have fun trying a new fruit or vegetable each week, or make new recipes during a family “cooking lesson”.
Example: Grill enough meat and veggies for a couple of meals so you only need to quickly reheat them on nights when you have activities.
4) Adequate restorative sleep is crucial to your health, but may be most neglected during the summer. If you’re getting jacked up (as we like to say) on sugar before bed or naptime, you’re probably not getting quality sleep. Be mindful of which foods help versus hinder sleep.
Examples: Avoid caffeine within 8 hours of your bedtime. Also limit sugar before bedtime. If you’re eating a late dinner, consider offering a treat before dinner instead, as long as it doesn’t deter your kid from eating a healthy meal.
What are more surefire ways of eating healthy in the summer?
1) Refuse to buy foods you don’t want your kids to eat. They’ll get plenty of that stuff at camps and friends’ houses anyhow.
2) Choose water as your family’s go-to drink. Make sure it’s available (within a kid’s reach) at all times. Offer lemon, lime, berries or watermelon slices as an occasional twist. Skip the sports drinks, which usually contain sugar and other additives that do more harm than good.
3) Make veggies a part of every meal and let fruits be the snack. Fruits are digested better when eaten solo, 15 minutes apart from other foods anyhow.
4) Make your own snack bars or meals in muffin ahead of time and freeze them, so you have healthier options handy at all times. These might thaw just in time for lunch at that summer camp, too.
5) Embrace some new go-tos, such as hard-boiled eggs, celery with cashew butter or steamed veggies, even chilled. (Steamed veggies are easier to digest than raw ones.)
Summer is the perfect time to make healthier choices. You may feel busier, but if you slow down enough to be more intentional about it, you’re sending a message that will remain timeless.
Spring, fall, winter or summer – eating healthy and getting lots of sleep will help make you more successful in everything you do!
*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.