Summertime is officially in full swing, and the livin’ is easy. One of the best things about this time of year (aside from spontaneous dips in the pool, outdoor dinners, and tiny umbrellas in your beverages) is that it allows us to throw caution to the wind when it comes to our typical mundane routines. It may be the longer days or the fact that the kids are out of school, but life just seems to be a little less structured and a little more fun.
Many of us are also heading out on at least one summertime adventure – whether it be a day simply spent at the beach or a month-long, cross-country road trip. Either way, it’s important to not completely derail the healthy habits that we work so hard to maintain all year long.
While it may be the carefree lifestyle that keeps us happy in the summer, food should be able to keep us fueled, energized, and feeling good the whole season through.
Here are the six summertime tips that you can keep with you – from evening outings to day trips or week-long road trips – to help you feel your best.
- Cool off. If there’s one time of year when people actually start to crave fruits and veggies, it’s summer. But if the heat gets intense where you live, it’s not uncommon for your appetite to wane and for cooling foods (I’m looking at you, ice cream) to sound way more appealing. While ice cream certainly has its place in a well-rounded diet too, you can cool off healthfully with a nutrient-packed smoothie. It’s portable, quality nutrition at its finest!
- Create a healthy salad. It could be the onslaught of farmers markets now in full swing or the delicious in-season produce available, but fruits and vegetables sound good this time of year, no? So, if you’re craving a full-meal salad for lunch or dinner throughout the summer months, skip the bottled dressings, cut back on the cheese and bacon, and embrace all the gorgeous seasonal plant foods available. When you’re on-the-go, layer the individual ingredients in a mason jar (with the dressing on the bottom, so the salad doesn’t get soggy), and give it a shake to mix it up right before you’re ready to chow down.
- Set yourself up for fruit success. Fruits are just showing off this time of year. From ripe berries to juicy watermelon to sweet cherries, getting in your daily allowance of fruit has never been easier. Fruits are also perfect examples of fast food found in nature. It makes for nutritious on-the-go snacks and gives you a great excuse to stop at that outdoor fruit stand to stretch your legs. Just grab, rinse, and eat!
- Embrace your nutty side. Trail mix is a balanced, nutrient-rich snack to have on hand during times of travel. Keep a container of homemade trail mix in your bag or car, so you always have a healthful option nearby. The fiber, protein, and healthy fat of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and even a little chocolate can help keep hunger pangs at bay. If trail mix isn’t your thing, you might want to try homemade energy bites – we’re sharing one of our favorite recipes below!
- Hydrate healthfully. During the hot days of summer, staying adequately hydrated is so important for your body to maintain certain internal functions such as electrolyte balance and healthy internal temperature. Rather than opting for high-calorie sweetened beverages or zero-calorie, artificially sweetened beverages, turn to water most often. To add a little flair to your plain glass of H20, freeze fruits, herbs, or even lemon juice in your ice cubes. As they melt, they’ll add a hint of flavor. Another fancy spin on water? Combine sparkling water with a splash of 100% fruit juice.
- Dip it. Summertime and dips seem to go together like summertime and popsicles. Whether its guacamole, salsa, or fruit dip, dips are the perfect poolside snack and barbeque side dish. When it comes to choosing your dips, opt for those that pump up your nutrient intake for the day rather than choosing those that leave you feeling sluggish and stuffed. Keep your homemade dip in a reusable container and take it with you – alongside fresh-cut veggies or pita chips – for a healthful road trip snack.
McKenzie is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, nutrition writer and communicator, who truly loves meeting and connecting with people. Grounded in science with an integrative and holistic approach, she aims to make the world a healthier, happier place by helping people feel their best from the inside out and encouraging others to restore a judgment-free relationship with food. McKenzie has been a contributing editor for the award-winning publicationEnvironmental Nutrition and her numerous articles, nutrition tips, and recipes can be found in publications such as The Chicago Tribune, Today’s Dietitian, Food and Nutrition Magazine, and more.
McKenzie graduated magna cum laude from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with a degree in Nutrition and completed her dietetic internship at Bastyr University in Seattle. She is a member of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a member of the dietetic practice group, Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine. When she’s not dishing out nutrition tidbits, you can find McKenzie cooking in her sunny kitchen, hiking along with her favorite Southern California trails, or packing her bags and heading out for her next adventure.