It's summertime and the living is easy. Yet our healthy habits can typically fly out the window when it's beach, BBQ, and patio season, or simply because it's too damn hot to cook!
We can find many excuses to let our healthy habits slide however it can actually be quite simple to adopt and maintain healthy habits during the summer, with a few little tweaks:
Hydrate hydrate hydrate!
Our bodies are roughly made up of 70% water.
Most of us need about 12 cups of water every day to stay hydrated, and this is especially important during those hot summer months!
We can obtain water from foods such as fruits and vegetables however we also need to be drinking enough to meet our daily requirements. It can be easy to forget or neglect water consumption and choose alternatives instead such as coffee, alcohol, soda, or juice. However most of these beverages can actually be dehydrating, increasing your need for hydration.
Feeling bored with plain ol' water? Try adding some herbs or fruits such as orange slices, mint leaves, fresh berries, or lemon.
The quality of your water source is just as important as how much you are drinking. City water can contain various pollutants and plastic water bottles may hold up to 80 different contaminants (1).
Best options include spring water, solid carbon filtered, reverse osmosis, and mineral water. You can also purchase a water filter for your home if you are drinking tap water to filter out impurities and restore alkalinity.
Choose a glass or stainless steel water bottle to avoid chemicals from plastic bottles leaching into your water.
Load up on fiber
It can be easy to neglect home cooking and instead order takeout or fast food during the summer months.
These dietary habits are typically lacking in a specific compound called fiber. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that passes undigested through the intestinal tract and feeds our good bacteria. It influences many processes in the body from digestive function, blood sugar stability, hunger regularity, and heart health.
The daily fiber amount recommended by the Institute of Medicine ranges from 19 to 38 grams (2).
However, the typical Western diet falls consistently short of this amount, typically only reaching about 15 grams per day (3).
Where do you obtain fiber from? Fruits, whole grains, legumes, raw nuts and seeds, and vegetables! A good rule of thumb is to fill half your plate with fiber-rich foods at every meal. Some of the highest-fiber foods are beans and legumes, avocado, chia seeds, leafy greens, berries, green peas, and broccoli.
Take note however that if you are on a low fiber diet, increase gradually your consumption of fiber to avoid any potential negative side effects, while drinking lots of water.
As the seasons change, so do our physical needs but also the types of fruits and vegetables that are grown.
Not only can eating seasonally help your bank account and the planet, but it also increases the flavor and freshness of foods.
But did you know there are health benefits to seasonal eating as well?
As we transition into summer, our bodies will naturally crave raw, light and cooling foods as our digestion becomes stronger, our body temperature increases, and our appetite typically decreases.
This means smoothies, ripe fruit, macro bowls, and fresh salads are ideal during this time.
By decreasing the transit time needed for produce to arrive in your hands, you are also getting food that is more nutrient-dense.
When foods are grown during their peak season they will naturally contain higher amounts of nutrients than if consumed during their offseason. Certain foods, in order to grow all year round, will be treated with chemicals and artificial processes that will preserve their flavor and color during the time it takes to get to the store. However, this type of artificial ripening has been shown to provide a less nutrient-dense food compared to a naturally ripened food (4).
Seasonal summer foods include apricots, berries, peaches, nectarines, avocado, cucumber, eggplant, tomatoes, plums, peaches, zucchini, and watermelon.
You can find out which foods are in season every month here.
It can become all too easy to surrender on the couch especially when it comes unbearably hot out. With the summer weather and vacation days, we tend to neglect the gym and our regular workout routines.
However, you don't need to go to the gym or lift weights to exercise!
In fact, there are even more ways to get moving during the summer months while also enjoying the outdoors.
Find something that you enjoy and grab a buddy if that helps you stay motivated and consistent. Some ways you can implement exercise into your summer routine include walking, hiking, biking, swimming, water skiing, rock climbing, yoga, volleyball, kayaking... the list is endless!
There are many ways to stay cool during the hot summer months when air conditioning isn't always available:
- Keep your exercise to the morning or evening
- Stay hydrated with plenty of water consumption
- Take cold showers as needed
- Open the windows in the mornings and evenings and keep closed during the hottest hours of the day to avoid heat coming into your home
- Invest in a fan to get the air circulating
- Keep cooking to the morning or evening and avoid higher heat cooking such as baking
- Keep frozen treats at the ready such as fruit, popsicles, and homemade ice cream
- Avoid going out in the sun between 11 AM and 3 PM
- Eat cooling foods such as smoothies and salads
Be sun smart
While it can be tempting to work on your tan, it's more important than ever before to practice safe sun exposure. As the protective layer of the earth becomes thinner with climate change, UV rays become stronger and more damaging.
When the sun is out, protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that are verified with 100% UV protection.
As the sun is the highest and most powerful during the midday hours it is recommended to avoid sun exposure between 11 am and 3 pm. If you are in the sun, opt to cover up or use sunscreen. Always choose natural sunscreen options as conventional products are shown to contain chemicals linked to health issues such as endocrine disruption (5).
Keep meals simple and easy!
Most of us don't want to be spending time in the kitchen cooking, especially in the summertime, when we want to be spending as much of our time enjoying the weather!
However, home cooking is the best way to ensure you are getting a max of nutrition into your diet while avoiding the not so healthy food options. So how can you keep it simple?
Salads are a great summer meal, because they don't take much time to whip up and don't necessarily require any cooking if you are using raw foods. They're also great to help cool down the body with nutrient-dense, water-rich, and cooling foods. Want a quick salad inspiration? Click here for our ultimate summer salad recipe.
Our favourite way to cool down! Smoothies can pack a ton of nutrition while still retaining amazing flavor. This is a great way to sneak in some veggies for picky eaters to get a boost of nutrients without even knowing it.
There are unlimited combinations that you can choose from when making a smoothie which means they can cater to any tastebuds and preferences. Give our Happy Hippy Smoothie a try this summer!
Have you heard of macro bowls before?
You basically dump everything from your fridge into a bowl and top it with a yummy dressing, and you're set! Easy peasy.
Like smoothies, you can literally create anything you desire. Macro bowls are typically comprised of a base consisting of grains or legumes, followed by non-starchy vegetables, a protein source, and a healthy fat such as avocado or a dressing. Check out 11 macro bowl recipes to keep you occupied for the rest of the summer.
About the Author
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.