In some ways it's easy to eat "clean" in the summer—there is an abundance of fruits and vegetables available and grilling is a quick and healthy way to prepare meat and fish.
In other ways, summer poses a big challenge in terms of eating well. There are a lot of parties, happy hours, ball games, water parks, and pool & beach clubs that don't offer a lot of (if any) healthy food options. Instead, they serve a lot of junk & fried food, along with a lot of sugary and alcoholic drinks.
I know after last weekend, I was feeling a few pounds heavier & the summer has just begun. It's easy to get caught up in all-day grazing (& possibly drinking) while you're hanging out at the pool or beach. Before this gets too out of hand, be conscious of it & plan ahead.
If you're eating well all week, you are entitled to a "cheat meal". The problem is, many of us find ourselves in the predicament of being in these situations multiple times a week. I've been hearing this a lot and being asked what to do. So, here are some suggestions:
1) Eat before you go. Eat a healthy meal that fills you up & you'll be less likely to dive into the cheese fries & fried dough as soon as you get wherever you're going.
2) Bring your own food. I realize a lot of these situations are day outings, where a healthy breakfast before you go won't satisfy you for the entire day. In these situations, bring what you can.
If you're going to the beach, you can bring food for the day. Pack healthy wraps or pre-packed salads for lunch and fruit & veggies to snack on.
If you're going to a party, look for some healthy options (veggies) to fill up a little bit before you head over to the wings. Better yet- bring a healthy dish that you enjoy. If your hosts aren't serving anything healthy, at least you'll have what you brought.
If you're going to a ball game or water park, you'll have a bigger challenge. You can bring some small snacks (nuts, Kind bar, apple) in your bag.
3) In cases where you are stuck without your own food:
Look for a salad. It might not be great, but usually there is some version of a salad available. Choose a vinaigrette dressing if you can.
Salvage the good stuff. Look for something that contains grilled chicken & eat that with any lettuce or tomato that you can get with it. Scrape off heavy sauces, cheeses & ditch the accompanying fries (telling them to serve it to you without that stuff is the best option, so it's not tempting you). If chicken's not an option, do the same with a burger—ditch the bun & fries.
See if you can find frozen yogurt. While this is more of a desert, it's better than most of the food options at those places.
Pretzels are probably the best snack option at most of those places: either a big, soft, ball park one with mustard, or pre-packed hard ones.
4) Drink lots of water! Besides helping to keep you hydrated, flushing toxins & boosting your immune system, water increases your metabolism, helps build & repair muscles, and makes you feel full.
5) Stay active! While controlling what you consume is the most important part of controlling your weight, staying active will burn calories. AND, time spent playing tennis, riding your bike, swimming, etc, will keep you away from those tempting foods & drinks for a while.
Summertime fun may be a challenge to your healthy lifestyle, but YOU CAN ENJOY IT without packing on the pounds! Start these habits now and continue them throughout the year :)