Contributed by Mirieta Selimovska
MHSc. (c), Nutritionist
It’s summer already, can you believe it? With many of us adapting to new routines and trying to make the best of alternative summer vacation plans this year, staying optimally nourished may not necessarily be top of mind, but worry not! Here are 5 easy eating tips to help you feel your best this season, both inside and out!
Combat any sun-damaged skin by filling up on fresh produce. Fruits and vegetables are packed with valuable antioxidants, including vitamins A, C and E. These help the body to repair damaged skin tissues (1). Incorporate more antioxidants into your meals by taking advantage of locally grown berries and adding them to breakfasts and snacks. Also keep an eye out for fresh tomatoes, peppers and leafy greens like kale and Swiss chard, and add these antioxidant powerhouses to your favourite sandwiches, soups and salads.
2. Pair with protein
For balanced and satisfying summer meals, pair seasonal produce with some quality proteins. In addition to making meals more filling, protein helps with muscle and tissue repair throughout the body. This includes skin cell regeneration, but also maintaining the strength of our hair, which may feel a bit dry and damaged from the sun, or from spending too much time in chlorine-treated swimming pools (2,3,4). Eggs, yogurt, fish, nuts and seeds are particularly good protein choices, as they are additionally rich in B vitamins. Current research does not endorse the excess supplementation of either protein or B vitamins to experience these health benefits. Instead, simply ensuring that you are regularly meeting your recommended daily intakes of these nutrients through food is effective enough for the body to be able to respond to and routinely keep up with these processes (5).
Proper hydration is important year-round, but especially during the warmer summer months. We sweat more in the heat, and are also typically more physically active these days. Combined, the risk of becoming dehydrated is increased and efforts to prevent it are critical (6). Make water your primary drink of choice, and remember to carry a reusable bottle with you when going outdoors. To make drinking water more fun, try infusing it with sliced berries, citrus fruit or fresh mint and refrigerating it overnight.
Whether you are working from home, or taking in some local getaways, planning meals and snacks ahead of time is a great way to reduce your spending on convenience foods while keeping up with a busy, active schedule. Create a menu at the start of each week, and try to prepare some recipes as best you can ahead of time. This will help to save cooking time later on, and ensure that enjoying nutritious foods is more readily available.
While often left unsaid, one of the most important ingredients in any recipe is to experience food together! Seize this season’s opportunity to enjoy the presence of friends and family (from a safe distance, of course!) and together, discover new foods and create some fun memories at the table.
There is so much to do and often what feels like such a short season to fit it all into; however, maintaining proper nutrition throughout the summer shouldn’t feel challenging. Follow these five tips and you’ll be on your way to an effortless, health-conscious summer!
(1) Antioxidants and Your Diet. (2009, April 4). Retrieved July 10, 2020, from https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthy-eating/antioxidants
(2) Quick Nutrition Check for Protein. (2019, December 13). Retrieved July 10, 2020, from https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthy-eating/quick-nutrition-check-protein
(3) Veldhorst, M., Smeets, A., Soenen, S., Hochstenbach-Waelen, A., Hursel, R., Diepvens, K., . . . Westerterp-Plantenga, M. (2008). Protein-induced satiety: Effects and mechanisms of different proteins. Physiology & Behavior,94(2), 300-307. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2008.01.003
(4) Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S., Lemmens, S. G., & Westerterp, K. R. (2012). Dietary protein – its role in satiety, energetics, weight loss and health. British Journal of Nutrition,108(S2). doi:10.1017/s0007114512002589
(5) Office of Dietary Supplements - Biotin. (2020, June 3). Retrieved July 10, 2020, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Biotin-HealthProfessional/
(6) Facts on Fluids - How to Stay Hydrated. (2018, May 1). Retrieved July 10, 2020, from https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Water/Facts-on-Fluids-How-to-stay-hydrated.aspx