This season lends itself to what I believe to be the healthiest few months for eating and lifestyle. More and more farmers markets become available, pools open, there are outside activities galore (camping, beach trips, evening walks, local races); I am sure I am preaching to the choir.
However, when it comes to food the definition of healthy can vary. I bet what I define as healthy is different than a chiropractor or nutritionist down the street. As a dietitian for almost a decade and someone with type 1 diabetes for most of my life, I define healthy food as something that makes us thrive, nurtures our blood sugar and gut health, and makes us feel good and happy.
All in all, there are solid recommendations that overlap with many health-conscious beliefs and practices such as the below.
Wake-up each day and give your innards a morning bath
I wish I could claim this metaphor, but I will give a shout out to the awesome podcaster Shawn Stevenson at “The Model Health Show,” for coming up with it. Aiming to drink 20-30 ounces of water first thing in the morning is good for your body, mind, metabolism, weight loss goals, blood sugar levels and energy. Yet how many of us start with a cup of Joe? An easy way to tackle this goal: place a water bottle on our nightstand or in a 20-ounce mason jar, so come morning it requires little effort to get the job done upon rising.
Eat local and seasonally
Think about how much flavor there is in a tomato now versus in February. Is your mouth watering just thinking about it? Enjoy all the flavors and colors we have readily available this summer; local farmer’s markets are so much fun. The sooner we eat fruits and vegetables after they were picked, the more nutritious they are. Vitamins such as A, E, C and B vitamins start to deteriorate as soon as the produce is cropped. Another bonus: eating local is good for the environment and our local farmers.
Focus on eating predominantly real food (practicing an 80/20 rule)
While there are limitations with nutrition/food logging research, there are numerous studies supporting the conclusion that real food (that is, minimally processed food like fruits and vegetables) supports health more than any other kind. Being healthy is beyond the idea of eating low-carb, low-fat, or high-protein, etc. Health is an umbrella of consuming needed micronutrients that energize our cells and allow us to thrive. Getting fiber from produce in our meals and snacks keeps our weight goals easier, allows our food to digest slower, and thus buffers the glucose release into our bloodstream. Getting most of our fiber from vegetables is the goal. If you are not eating that much produce right now, understand that our tastes for real food can change, and with enough repetition of real foods and reduction of processed foods our taste buds can change for the better. I recommend to clients to strive for 80% real foods.
Soak up the vitamin D
Get in touch with nature, and not only have fun with this suggestion but support your circadian rhythms. Exposing ourselves to nature can allow such things. Getting more sun, can also mean getting more Vitamin D.
Regardless of the season, eat intuitively, seek out activities that make you happy, and hang with people who make you feel good about yourself.