As daylight hours lengthen and the kids are being packed up for day camp instead of school, it can only mean one thing: summertime! Warmer weather means not just shedding sweaters from our wardrobe, but the chance to shed a few unhealthy habits too. I’ve got a few summer-inspired tips for keeping your body healthy.
Follow Your Mother (Nature’s) Advice
Mama Nature’s natural tendency come summer is to pull all the animals out of hibernation – and that includes you. As sunbathing becomes part of your daily routine, you’ll notice a natural aversion to dense and heavy foods, like stews, pot roasts, and casseroles. Trade in those winter-reminders with lots of the easily accessible fruits and veggies. Those bright berries and lush greens expedite our bodies ability to detoxify, naturally making us feel cool in the heat.
Curious as to what summer fruits and vegetables you’ll find to fill your plate? Apricots, avocados, basil, beets, blueberries, mango, peaches, plums, squash and tomatoes are just a few natural treats that will be plentiful. Imagine a simple lunch each day of fresh basil leaves and heirloom tomatoes drizzled in olive oil. Perfection. Add a sprinkle of goat cheese for a more fanciful fare.
Water, water, water: staying hydrated come summertime is vital to your health and wellbeing. Remember, your body is a graceful, gorgeous temple…that also houses more water than anything else. Replenishing yourself frequently will help keep your energy high, your spirits higher, and even allow you to sleep better at night.
GMO-Free: look for foods that are not genetically modified organisms. A GMO has genetic material from unrelated organisms – like a fish gene in a tomato (um, weird). In theory, GMO’s breed hardier plants by helping them resist drought and pests. But what GMO’s do to humans over a long period of time is not known. Wait until you know the facts before you buy into the fads.
Avoid These for a Healthy Summer
Faux wheat: yes, pure wheat and whole grains can be good for you (if you’re not gluten intolerant). But not everything labeled as “wheat” is truly made from wheat. In fact, wheat bread is generally made from white flour, and thus the same as eating Wonderbread. Anything can be labeled as wheat if the flour used comes from the wheat plant. Check your label for the ingredients list and if it contains the words “wheat flour” or anything “enriched” or “blanched” pass over it. Instead go for a 100% whole -grain like Ezekiel or Sunflower bread, and look for the terms “100% pure” and “organic whole grains.”
Fat Free: no, really. Anything fat free is to be avoided, unless it’s naturally made so. If fat is removed, so is flavor…which means food manufacturers added artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, or sugar to make it taste decent. The exception here is natural fats, or “good fats” as they’re often called. Nosh on avocados or nuts guilt free.
Most Importantly, Have Fun
Summer is a time for playing outside and embracing your inner child. Enjoy what the sunshine has to offer (with sunscreen of course!) and occasionally let yourself enjoy a cup of frozen yogurt (I recommend Pink Berry) or a dollop of Greek yogurt – those are good fats too, when used sparingly.
Linda Baldwin, is a Credentialed Diet & Nutrition Expert and a Professional Catering Executive (CPCE) whose skills have been honed by 25 years in the catering, restaurant, and event production industry. She is know as local foodie, ultra healthy prepared foods specialist, educator – columnist and creator of Amore and Amore To-Go a lifestyle company, based in South Tampa since 2006. She leads a team of professionals that include chefs, and educators in the field of health and wellness.