We’re in the heart of summer here in the Northern hemisphere, and that can mean a bit of craziness. Schedules are off, kids are home from school. Maybe you want to spend more time enjoying the outdoors, but don’t have time to do that AND spend an hour or two at the gym. Appetite changes during hot weather can make it difficult to know what to eat (and when to eat it). And speaking of eating — cookouts, camping and socializing can make sticking to a plan a real challenge.
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed by it all and thinking you’ll just bag it and get it together in September? Don’t give up just yet. Here are some tips to keep you on track (and they’re easier than you might think).
1. Cut yourself some slack
Instead of stressing about the uncertainties of summer, enjoy it! Give yourself some leeway to enjoy friends, family, and the Great Outdoors. Before you know it, fall will be rolling in and life will be structured again. Chances are you will be more active than you are in the colder months — use that to your advantage! If you typically lift weights 5-6 days a week and your time is limited, you might consider reducing your lifting days down for the summer in favor of a hike or bike ride with a friend. You may find that the extra recovery helps with stress levels and actually improves your performance.
2. Pay attention to your appetite and eat slowly
When it’s warm outside, we’re typically not as hungry. And when we are hungry, it’s generally for something cool and refreshing rather than higher-calorie comfort foods. Tune in to those natural hunger cues and opt for more fresh veggies and fruits. Cold potato and pasta salads can also be a great choice — when some starches like potatoes, rice and pasta are cooked and cooled, their “resistant starch” (RS) is increased. RS has a number of benefits, including increased fat utilization, better satiety, better insulin sensitivity, improved digestion, hydration, and immunity.
Unpredictable schedules, social gatherings and day-trips or camping can make it difficult to have a ready supply of high-quality whole foods. If you show up to a summer barbecue and the food choices aren’t optimal, take it in stride. Take a small plate and take smaller portions than what you think you’ll want. Eat slowly, putting your food or utensils down between bites and really noticing the flavor and texture of the food. If it doesn’t taste good, move on to something else. Concentrate on enjoying the company you’re with and/or the beauty of nature. Make good choices whenever you can, but if you really want a piece of that cheesecake, take a small piece and enjoy the heck out of it.
Want some free, no-strings-attached help establishing healthy habits like eating slowly? We have ongoing monthly habit challenges to help prompt you to make small changes that can make a huge difference. Join our free social group to learn more.
3. Be smart about alcohol
Let’s face it, sometimes there’s just nothing better than a cold beer on a hot day. Strategies for dealing with alcohol could make up article in itself, but here are a few quick tips. You can skip it all together and opt for water, iced tea or sparkling drinks. You can also enjoy a drink or two in moderation without blowing your whole plan. To keep one beer from turning into 3 or 4, and to offset some of alcohol’s dehydrating effects, have a glass of water or iced tea between alcoholic drinks. You can also use a beer cozy to keep your drink cold instead of hurrying to finish it so you can grab a new, frosty one out of the ice chest. Drink slowly — use water or another low-calorie beverage for hydration and sip your alcohol.
Summer doesn’t have to be a shame spiral of overeating, guilt and “I’ll get it together in September”. Keep these simple tips in mind as you give yourself some grace to enjoy your family, friends, great food and amazing weather.
Gina Patterson is the co-founder of BITE Nutrition. Nutrition and exercise coaching is the perfect mix for Gina, combining her love of all things scientific and technical with her passion for seeing people live balanced, abundant, satisfying lives. These days you can usually find her lifting up heavy things and putting them down again, and she is active in several local adult volleyball leagues. She enjoys downhill and cross-country skiing, mountain biking, and hiking around her home in beautiful Central Oregon.