5 Summer Dietary Mishaps to Master by Kathie Madonna Swift
Ah, summer. Such a heavenly time of year. Even when it’s sizzling out there, it’s hard not to love the season of sun, fun and relaxed social gatherings. Picnics, cocktails and barbecues under the stars abound, so enjoy the experience of dining outdoors – where it always seems that everything just tastes better.
For some people, however, all that seasonal socializing can make it tough to keep a healthy diet on track. It can lead to a series of small dietary mishaps that really can add up, wreaking havoc on their systems.
How to side-step some of the most common seasonal pitfalls? Consider the following summertime scenarios and have a few workarounds ready – so you can have a healthy, happy, guilt-free and totally delicious summer:
1) Help, I’m ravenous! Break out the munchies!
I’ve done it myself, going hungry to a party. All I can say is, don’t! Arriving ravenous is a recipe for a dietary disaster. Heavy snacking on small plates of hors d'oeuvres in an effort to tame that raging hunger will add piles of nutrient-light calories to your day. If you just cannot resist the pre-meal nibbles, look for foods with nutritional benefits, like olives, nuts, cut veggies and hummus.
2) I really need a drink… or three.
Looking forward to enjoying a drink on a hot summer night? The key is “a drink” not two or three! If you’re going to have a “specialty cocktail,” as tempting as they may be, keep in mind that they come with a lot of extra sugar, so one is plenty. Even if you’re more of a wine or straight spirits sipper, remember to avoid over-doing it by cutting yourself off early in the evening and, at minimum, alternating alcoholic drinks with water or seltzer to combat heat and alcohol-triggered dehydration.
3) Oh look, they’ve got macaroni and potato salad!
White and beige summer fashion is in, but skip the white and beige “salads,” as in those traditional summertime buffet staples like macaroni salad, potato salad and mayo-heavy chicken salads. Packed with the kind of carbs, starches and fats that are tough on your waistline and offer little nutrition, traditional summer salads are a dietary double whammy most of us could do without. Instead, gift your body with salads that are lean, green, full of fresh veggies and lots of color. Always eat the rainbow and you’ll rarely go wrong.
4) Did someone say there’s cake and ice cream?
For those who love dessert, the end of the meal can be the biggest challenge of all. How to navigate around the super-sweet stuff? Step away from the cookies, pies and cakes and, if possible, offer to bring a simple cut-fruit-salad that relies heavily on low-sugar, good-for-you berries and other seasonal fruit gems. Steer clear of fruit salads that include mayo, whipped cream and/or marshmallows – coating your fruit in calorie-dense toppings is counterproductive to keeping your diet clean.
5) These heels are killing me. Gotta take a load off.
How wisely you choose your food is obviously the number one factor in standing up to those summertime temptations. But another one is simply to stand up. One of the best things you can do at a party is to keep moving, keep circulating and remain upright for as much of it as possible – instead of planting yourself on a lounge chair for the duration. Wear comfortable platform or wedge heels that you can stand in for long periods of time without sinking into the grass and save the stilettos for September. ‘Till then, stand up – for your health.
For more ideas on how to create a vibrant diet, a healthy gut and microbiome (the bacteria that live in your gut), check out my book The Swift Diet: 4 Weeks to Mend the Belly, Lose the Weight and Get Rid of the Bloat.
-- with additional reporting by Kate Doyle Hooper