It feels like it should be simple enough. That keeping healthy over the summer should be an easy process, with the lovely weather to keep you out and about and lovely fresh salads, you should be sorted, right? But if you’ve been working on your nutrition over the last year, going on holidays or having endless days out with the family can feel a bit daunting when before you may have not have been paying as much attention to what you ate.
That’s why I’m giving you this step-by-step guide to help you navigate the summer holidays and keep your health and nutrition nourished in a way that’s realistic and doable – let’s dive in.
Step 1: Plan Your Meals and Snacks:
Planning may be something you want a break from when it comes to the holidays. However, planning a week ahead where food is concerned will really help keep you focused nutrition wise over the summer holidays. Start by looking at what activities you have planned for the week. What days out are happening, BBQ’s or any other social engagement with friends and family. Will you need a picnic? Or is there a long car or plane journey you need extra snacks for? Knowing this in advance will have you prepared for every eventuality.
Balance is everything when it comes to our health. Having a delicious salad with some protein and vegetables for a picnic lunch will give you the energy you need for the day, so even if you do end the outing with an ice-cream, you’ve had balance in your day overall.
Step 2: Shop for Fresh, Seasonal Foods
Summer is a time of new growth and there are plenty of delicious fresh fruits and vegetables on offer over the season. Take the summer season as an opportunity to experiment and try new fruits and vegetables you wouldn’t otherwise have access too. Farmers markets or your local vegetable shop will have lots of wonderful veggies, and they taste much better when locally grown too.
Varying the colours of different fruits with all the berries that come into season over the summer will also support the growth of your gut microbiome, so you’ll reap the benefits coming into the winter.
Step 3: Embrace the BBQ
With the Irish weather any BBQ we manage to have can feel like a celebration and a reason to splurge out. However, a BBQ doesn’t have to mean lots of less than healthy foods and generally they can work to our advantage health wise. Grilling different meats or even fish on the BBQ can add in better proteins. A grilled chicken or fish (prawn or salmon work best) skewer can be a delicious alternative to a kitchen cooked dinner too. Flavouring these with fresh herbs from the garden will add taste, but will also feed your good bugs.
Adding in different salads like quinoa, a baby potato salad or bean salad adds in more fibre and variation to the usual vegetables on offer all year round. These also work well as leftovers to be used as lunches during the week too.
Step 4: Stay Hydrated with Infused Water
Staying hydrated is even more important during the summer. With warmer days (hopefully), even short amounts of exercise or long days of exploring can leave you more dehydrated than normal. With less time at your desk or around the house, your normal routine for keeping hydrated may also slip. Keep a bottle of water ready with you wherever you are, will help to keep your water levels up. And to avoid taking on more sugar via the sugary drinks you may crave when thirsty, flavour your water naturally with lemon, mint or fresh berries.
Iced-tea is another favourite drink in summer time, however the shop bough varieties can be laden with added sugar or sweeteners. Creating your own with a green tea, sparkling water and tablespoon of honey in 2 litres, though an added sugar, will be much less than the shop bought ones. Green tea has lots of benefits for health due to its high polyphenols and herbal teas promote hydration compared to coffee or black tea.
Step 5: Plan Balanced Picnics and Outdoor Meals
Picnics are great fun over the summer and are a good way to keep your body nourished when out over the summer, especially when you don’t know what is on offer at your destination. All you need is a little forward planning and preparation. Create a salad that has some protein from a chicken breast or tinned fish, with some wholegrains such as brown rice or quinoa and plenty of salad veggies. You can always pack the salad dressing separately so that it doesn’t get soggy. With more protein than your average sandwich and higher in slow release carbs, these will keep you energised even on the busiest of days out. Egg muffins, or mini-frittatas, are another handy snack or lunch that travels well. You can pack these full of vegetables like grated courgette, pepper, onion or mushroom to suit all tastes.
Having plenty of healthy snacks with you will keep your energy up on a long day out and avoid snacking on high-sugary foods that have very little nutrition. Homemade dark chocolate nut clusters mix healthy proteins with chocolate for a sweet but nourishing snack. Homemade protein balls are another handy snack to have on hand. Freezing these when you first make them will help keep them firm when you take them on a picnic on a warm day.
Step 6: Indulge in Healthy Summer Treats
Sweet treats that we generally associate with the summer, like ice-cream and ice-cold fizzy drinks, can be easily swapped for healthy alternatives for your everyday. Making an ice-pop from left-over kefir smoothies make a nourishing alternative to ice-creams. If you’re already making milk kefir, using this to make home-made ice-cream will benefit your gut microbiome compared to traditional ice-cream.
If fizzy drinks or iced-teas are your drink of choice when out for the day, swap your normal one for a Kombucha drink. Kombucha is a fermented tea, so you’re supporting your gut health and quenching thirst in one go. Watch out for those that are high in sugar. A traditional kombucha drink would have next to no carbohydrates of which sugar on the label. These from Holland&Barrett are a good brand.
Summer is a time for fun, good food and lots of activities. By doing a little forward planning for your meals, snacks and days out you can really add more nourishment into your summer, while still enjoying those traditional summer treats. Focusing on balance and by adding in more of the seasonal fruits and veggies that are on offer over the summer, you can really build on what you’ve already put into place over the last few months.
If you want to use the summer months as a time to get started with nourishing your body and your health, why not book a free 20 minute Health Review call with me today and we can see how you can start your journey to a more nourished you.