1. Pack In The Fruit & Veg
Did you know that when the weather is warmer, your body naturally craves fresher, lighter foods? Some health experts even believe many of our summer cravings relate back to hydration as people tend to be more active and thirstier – so try swapping your porridge for chilled overnight oats and soups and stews for salads and fresh vegetable dishes.
As nutritional therapist Amelia Freer explains, “Summer is the season of abundance and there’s no better time of year to celebrate the rainbow of foods. Think about a fresh and light breakfast of broad beans, feta and eggs on toast, perhaps moving onto a refreshing lunch of cucumber gazpacho. For dinner, think vibrant tray bakes of fish and vegetables.”
2. Look After Your Liver
If you’re a rosé fan come summer, consider taking a supplement to support your liver. “Milk thistle is a great place to start – the seeds of the milk thistle plant contain silymarin, a group of three flavonoids that work together to strengthen the outer membranes of liver cells and reduce the number of toxins entering cells. Plus, it can also help to reduce inflammation,” explains GP Nutrition founder Gabriela Peacock.
Also pick your poison wisely – anything dark, including dark shots and cocktails, will give you a worst hangover, so stick with clearer drinks.
3. Make Your Own Ice Lollies
Before you reach for the Ben & Jerry’s, check your fridge for the following: soft fruits (like berries, nectarines or plums) and Greek yoghurt. Blend them together in a Nutribullet along with a dash of honey, before popping into moulds and freezing.
Fancy something sweeter? Try slicing a banana in half, popping it on a lolly stick and melting in melted chocolate and nuts before freezing on a baking tray. It may sound indulgent but this summer-ready treat is lower in sugar than regular lollies and chock-full of vitamins and healthy fats if you add nuts.
4. Keep Cold, Carb-Rich Salads On Hand
The savviest of wellness experts get ahead with their meal planning and the rules are no different once summer hits. If you like to take advantage of warmer days and lighter evenings to exercise outside (or feel more inspired to hit the gym), take the time to batch-cook some low GI-carb-based salads to have in the fridge.
“Meal prep is the secret to getting lean,” says The Body Coach, aka Joe Wicks, “And it’s absolutely fine to eat carbs, in fact you should after you’ve been working out to replenish your glycogen stores. Keeping a stash of salads in your fridge – based around the likes of wholewheat couscous, quinoa and freekeh – will make summer meals a breeze.”
5. Steer Clear of Iced Coffees
It’s not summer until you’ve had a Frappuccino, but when your morning cup contains more calories than a Big Mac, it might be wise to reconsider your order of the day.
The majority of Starbucks Frappuccinos pack at least 250 calories (some soaring to 400 if you add whipped cream and full fat milk). Instead, ask for your latte of choice over ice, slashing your sugar and fat intake.
6. Eat Seasonally
“Seasonal, local produce is grown, picked and eaten at its peak and therefore contains optimal levels of health-boosting vitamins, minerals and trace elements,” says GP Dr Hilary Jones. “This is in contrast to produce that has been picked before ripening, air-freighted halfway around the world and then sat in storage (sometimes for months) before eventually make its way to supermarket shelves.”
Fortunately, a bevy of versatile fruit and veg are currently in season in the UK – pick up some broad beans, corn, peas, figs, beetroot, courgettes, strawberries, cherries and blackberries, to name but a few.
7. Be Smart About Smoothies
Smoothies, the health brigade claim, are a way to cram loads of healthy ingredients in one hit. Avocados, nut butter, dates, superfood powders – it’s all natural, right? Overloading your body with so-called natural foods is something Amelia Freer is concerned about: “People are loading up their smoothies with up to five portions of fruit. Even though the ingredients are natural, they can still be incredibly fattening if eaten in large quantities.”
The rules? Be wary of bananas, high-sugar fruits, nut butter, dates, maple syrup, coconut butter and avocados, all of which should be consumed in moderation.
8. Be BBQ Savvy
“Portion control seems to go out the window at a BBQ,” explains fitness guru Kayla Itsines. “To make it easier for yourself, choose the healthiest foods first – think lean meats and salads made with vinaigrette – and load up on them. You can still enjoy creamy potato salads, cheeseburgers and hotdogs, but in smaller portions.”
Also, be wary of sauces and dressings – salad dressings are often packed with fat, sugar and calories, sometimes more than the salad itself, so try mixing lemon and vinegar with a little mustard for a dressing or make your own healthy tzatziki by mixing fat-free yoghurt with grated cucumber, garlic and salt.
9. Stay Hydrated
Making up two thirds of your body, water plays a vital role in everything from regulating body temperature to keeping your skin and digestion healthy. When the temperatures soar, you should reconsider your water intake as higher temperatures and humidity increase the speed of evaporation from the skin which means you sweat more.
While precisely how much water you should drink varies from person to person, especially when weight, height and activity levels are taken into account, aim to drink little and often throughout the day. Drink when you’re thirsty and remember your wee should be a very pale straw colour – any darker could suggest dehydration.