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Do you crave different foods in the summertime than in winter, spring and fall? Due to our body's natural response to seasonal changes, most of us do. As temperatures rise, our bodies change and heat up. To make sure you're eating for optimal health as we approach summer, you'll need to modify your diet. So keep reading to learn a healthy summer diet plan to support your health and immunity over the next few months.
Many of our natural body processes slow down in the summer. To make sure you're eating for optimal health during the summer, you must take this into account.
Here are a few ways your body goes through changes in the summer.
You Sweat More
You wear fewer clothes in the summer than in the winter. If you wore the same thing in the summer months as you did in the winter, your body would overheat.
As it turns out, you sweat more in the summer even if you wear little clothing. Water passes very easily through your body. This could lead to dehydration if that waters not replaced. You can start feeling dizzy, tired, confused, or irritable after dehydration sets in. Let the problem persist, you may experience a higher than normal heartbeat, rapid, shallow breathing, sleepiness, and even fainting.
The answer is simple. Make sure you're drinking plenty of filtered water in the summer. Fill a BPA-free water bottle and sip on it all day. Drink chilled, filtered water or herbal teas flavored with fresh fruit and veggies to keep your body hydrated.
Your Body Naturally Slows Down
As the summer heat raises your body temperature, your brain notices. It tells your muscles to take a break and slows down other internal processes. You might find yourself getting tired and wanting to rest more frequently. As your body slows things down, your metabolic process lowers.
This means you might not find yourself as hungry in the summer as you were just a few months ago. While it's okay to skip a meal every now and then, you can't go day after day without eating much. Make sure you're eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits.
Get a little protein each day, in the form of lean meats and poultry, wild-caught fish, and eggs. Your body might be slowing down, but you still need nutrition to keep it working properly.
Your Water Weight May Rise
If you sweat more in the summer, why are you more likely to retain fluid than in some other seasons?
The reason has to do with your body's survival response. It notices extreme heat and understands you'll be sweating more. It becomes less efficient at removing fluids from the body because it thinks you may need this water later.
This can be frustrating. You might think it would be easier to lose body weight in the summer because you're sweating all the time. Since your metabolism slows down, you might find it harder than usual to burn fat and excess weight.
One way to Fight Water Retention is to Drink Plenty of Water
I know, this sounds counterintuitive. In actuality it makes you more efficient at removing water from your body. Your brain notices that water isn't scarce. As a response it begins to release excess water weight.
The average person needs about a gallon of water to pass through his or her system daily. You may need a little more or a little less, so listen to your body and keep hydrated.
Your Allergies Wake Up
If mother nature wakes up in spring, she is alive and well in summer. This is true regarding many plants that can trigger seasonal allergies. Aside from sneezing, watery eyes, weariness, and other symptoms, these summer allergies also cause inflammation.
There are a few things you can do to naturally fight inflammation. Eating locally grown, raw honey, boosts your immune system. It can keep allergies at bay during the summer months. Turmeric is a powerful, natural health booster with excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Add turmeric to your meals or take a daily supplement.
Drinking green tea will keep you hydrated and fight inflammation at the same time. The omega-3 fatty acids found in wild-caught salmon and other deep-water fish can help you battle the inflammation which accompanies summer seasonal allergies.
Your body goes through a lot of changes when the heat of summer hits. Respond smartly by drinking water throughout the day. Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables can boost your hydration efforts and gives your body much-needed nutrition. Consuming anti-inflammatory foods and drinks means minimizing the effects of summer allergies.
These steps let you harness the summer changes in your body for your best health.
Healthy Summer Diet Plan
Foods that Support Your Body's Summer Needs
You are a product of nature. When nature changes around you, your body changes as a response. You've probably noticed you have different eating habits and desires at different times of the year. This is a byproduct of your many physiological processes changing to keep you as healthy as the seasons change.
It means you should be eating certain foods during the hot summer months.
These foods will:
- Fill your seasonal nutritional needs
- Help keep you hydrated
- Provide other mental and physical health advantages
Start chowing down on the following foods when mother nature turns up the heat in the summer. You'll feel better from head to toe while avoiding the fatigue and chronic lack of energy many feel during the summer.
Eat These Delicious Fruits and Veggies
You need to keep hydrated in the summer. You're going to be sweating more and you need to replace those lost fluids. You can obviously drink your way to proper hydration, but your body also needs essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.
You can fill both requirements by eating more watermelons, apples, and grapes in the summer. Eat delicious cantaloupes and strawberries, pineapples, and citrus fruits. Peaches, cucumbers, celery, lettuce, and tomatoes will all help you meet your elevated hydration needs.
Give Your Digestive System a Break
Every holistic healing tradition has recognized that digestion is key to health. In Ayurveda, good health is important for strong, healthy digestion, and vice versa. Digestion is not only affected by the type of foods we eat, but also by the combinations of food eaten and the amount of food taken at a meal.
Your digestive process slows down in the summer. So does your hunger. These are a couple of ways your body tries to lower your internal temperature when it's hot outside. As a result, give your digestive system a break by eating meals that are easier on your system.
This means lots of leafy greens and salads. Eat fresh vegetables and the delicious fruits we talked about. Steer clear from meals that are full of simple carbohydrates, processed food, and fast food.
Seafood is a good protein that's easier to digest than some other protein-rich foods like poultry and beef.
Your body slows down in the summer. Give it a break and do the same with your eating habits.
More on how to improve digestive health here.
Focusing on Hydration During the Summer
It's always important to stay hydrated. Dehydration can start quickly, and problems can go from mild to serious if the problem isn't addressed. That means you need to be drinking plenty of water during the day, especially throughout the summer months.
You also lose body water naturally through your intestines, skin, urine, and even your lungs. If you exercise (and you should regularly) there's even more water leaving your system.
For these and other reasons it's important to stay hydrated during the summer. Here are a couple of ways to make sure your body gets all the hydration it needs for you to be as healthy as possible during the hottest time of the year.
Start Keeping Score
Most people need roughly 1 gallon of water to pass through their system each day. If you are larger or exercise strenuously, you need to put even more water through your system. Instead of just tracking your mind, start recording how much water you drink.
Keep a Hydration Journal
Record exactly how many ounces of water you drink, and when. You want to space out your consumption throughout the day. One gallon of water (3.78 liters) equals 128 ounces. You're going to get some water in the food you eat, but don't try to measure that.
Infuse Your Water to Make It Healthier (and Better Tasting)
Drinking a gallon of water each day can be boring. One simple way to make water more nutritious and flavorful is to add your favorite fruits and vegetables. Chop, slice and dice cucumbers, citrus fruits and other fruits and veggies. Add them to your water for a healthier, more flavorful drink.
Eat These 10 Water-Rich Foods
Eat more of the following foods. They are 10 of the most water-rich foods made by mother nature. They are also full of the essential minerals and nutrients your body needs to help you stay healthy during the summer.
- Cucumbers – 96% water
- Tomatoes – 95% water
- Spinach – 93% water
- Mushrooms – 92% water
- Melon – 91% water
- Broccoli – 90% water
- Brussels sprouts – 88% water
- Oranges – 86% water
- Apples – 85% water
- Blueberries – 84% water
Limit These 6 Dehydrating Drinks
A cucumber naturally hydrates. The following drinks do just the opposite. They naturally cause you to expel water. Limit your intake of the following 5 dehydrating drinks during the summer and keeping hydrated won't be difficult.
- Energy drinks
- Sweet, sugary drinks
Alcohol is a diuretic. That means it makes your body lose fluids by forcing you to go to the restroom more often than normal.
Coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks are diuretics as well, though not on the level of alcohol. Drinks with lots of sugar and other sweeteners keep your body from absorbing water.
The best drinks to stay hydrated for the summer are filtered water and herbal teas. Start recording how much water you drink each day. These practices can keep you hydrated and healthy during the summer months.
Best Non-Perishable Foods for Summer Health
Eating lots of health-boosting fruits and vegetables is essential during the summer. Unfortunately, fresh produce doesn't have the longest shelf life. To make sure you eat healthy during the summer months, add the following non-perishable foods to your meals. Along with the fresh vegetables and fruits you should be eating, they give you the best chance of being the healthiest “you” possible.
Nuts and Seeds
Seeds and nuts are an excellent source of healthy protein. They have the essential fats your body craves and are full of dietary fiber. There are many other health benefits. Both nuts and seeds are versatile in the kitchen too.
You can crush them and add them to many recipes, make nut butter, or sprinkle them on your salad. They have a long-lasting shelf life. Eating a handful of nuts every day is a smart nutrition practice, not just for the summer. Chia, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, walnuts, and almonds are just a few healthy examples.
Dried Fruit and Vegetables
Fresh fruit and vegetables don't last long on your kitchen counter. But there are several ways you can preserve produce, so you have long-lasting, non-perishable foods that let you eat healthy through the summer.
When purchasing dried jerky, fruits, or vegetables, make sure you're reading food labels. Avoid lots of additives and sugar, and stick to organic, natural choices only.
Keep These Healthy, Long-Lasting Oils on Hand
Coconut oil has the highest flash point of any cooking oil. That means it doesn't lead to oxidative stress like many vegetable oils. Coconut oil additionally has a naturally long shelf life. So does olive oil. Those two oils have healthy fats that everybody needs.
You can mix your salads with a little coconut or extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. Use either of these oils in place of butter and spreads that are highly processed.
Canned Meats and Seafood
Canned seafood and meats can last as many as four or five years. They make healthy protein choices and you don't have to worry about them going bad over the summer. As we mentioned earlier, just make sure you are reading your food labels.
To add flavor and extended shelf life, manufacturers sometimes add sugar, unhealthy levels of salt, and other unneeded ingredients to canned meat and seafood. Make sure you avoid these ingredients. Purchase canned meat and seafood that have been packed in water only, or just their natural juices.
Make a Healthy Trail Mix
You can make a healthy trail mix using many of the foods we just listed. Trail mixes are portable and long-lasting. Having them around means you'll reach for this healthy snack in the summer months rather than for some unhealthier, processed alternatives.
Here are some of our favorite trail mix recipes:
No-Bake Protein Bars
Dark chocolate has a decent shelf life. So do the nuts and seeds we mentioned earlier. Combine these with coconut flour, cashew butter, and pure maple syrup to make healthy, no-bake protein bars.
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 cup non-whey protein powder
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or organic agave, raw honey)
- Dark chocolate chips
2 cups cashew butter (replace with the nut butter of your choice)
- Place parchment paper in an 8 x 8 inch cake tin or cooking pan
- Mix protein powder and coconut flour and set it to the side
- Melt the maple syrup and cashew butter. Mix well
- Add the maple syrup/cashew butter mixture to your dry mix and add water or coconut milk if necessary, to form a thick batter
- Pour batter into the parchment-lined pan
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove, cut into bar sizes and refrigerate.
Hot summer months can make perishable food go bad faster than usual. This is especially true for the fresh fruits and vegetables you should be eating. Use the non-perishable food ideas just covered to ensure you have plenty of healthy food around all summer long.
Cooling Foods to Beat the Summer Heat
It can be tough to keep cool during the summer. If you reach for highly processed, sugar-filled treats like ice cream, you can end up raising your body temperature. This is because unhealthy fats and tons of manufactured ingredients cause your digestive system to work in overdrive. Your internal temperature rises as your body tries to handle this and other highly processed foods.
Don't worry. All is not lost. The following foods will help you cool down when those sizzling summer days come rolling around. They are also good for you, offering many health-boosting benefits.
Healthy Ice Cream
The highly processed ingredients in traditional ice cream make it unhealthy for you. They can also raise your body temperature. If you love ice cream, there's good news. You can make a healthy alternative that doesn't use dairy or unhealthy refined sugar.
Try the following recipe for a healthy ice cream that can keep you cool when summer gets hot. (It's also dairy-free, gluten-free, Paleo-approved, and vegan-friendly. You'll need a hand-powered or electric ice cream maker.)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or raw honey
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup almond butter
- 14 ounces full fat coconut milk or cream
- Break out your blender. Add coconut milk first and slowly add all the other ingredients while blending on low. Increase to high and blend until smooth.
- Power up your ice cream maker. Pour in your ice cream mix while the ice cream maker is turned on. Churn for 20 to 30 minutes until the mixture is firm.
- Freeze for at least an hour.
- Serve with fresh blueberries or berries of choice
This recipe makes about 1 pint of healthy vanilla ice cream.
Popsicles, Slushies and Milkshakes
You can make healthy summer milkshakes, slushies, and popsicles without the unhealthy ingredients they usually contain. Use coconut or almond milk instead of dairy milk in your milkshakes. Swap in maple syrup, organic agave nectar, or coconut sugar instead of refined sugar and other processed sweeteners.
Blend or juice your favorite fruits for a healthy flavor boost. These cooling drinks can help you battle the summer heat without your health paying the price.
Avocados in Anything
The humble-looking avocado is one of the world's greatest superfoods. It improves your health in so many ways. No fruit has a higher level of monounsaturated fatty acids, which help remove heat from your blood. Avocados are easy to digest, as well. This means you don't raise your body temperature by overworking your digestive system.
Bananas are also easy on your system. They digest and process quickly, and they are what is known as an astringent food. They cause your tissue to shrink as you eat them, which allows your body to absorb more water. This cools you down to your core.
Chilled Nut Butters
Chill nut butter and spread it onto chopped celery slices. Slather it on apple and pear slices. Chilled nut butters are high-protein health-boosters that can cool down the heat of the summer.
Chilled Tuna Fish Salad
Mix canned tuna fish with avocado-based mayonnaise. Add diced onions and celery if you like. Serve this healthy tuna fish salad chilled with large lettuce leaves for wrapping.
Your Favorite Summer Salads
Dice and slice your favorite fruits and vegetables. Chill them in the refrigerator with a head of lettuce. Make sure to add tomato and cucumber, spinach and mushrooms, melon and broccoli. Those foods are over 90% water. Eat one of these chilly summer salads every day when the sun is high in the sky and you'll keep hydrated as well as cool.
Cold Soup? Definitely!
You can whip together a simple tomato soup and serve cold instead of hot. Gazpacho is another tomato-based soup that's traditionally served cold.
Here's a simple recipe for a chilled and creamy red pepper soup that's perfect for the summer heat.
Creamy Red Pepper Soup
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 14 ounces of coconut milk
- 1 cup chilled chicken stock
- 2 roasted red bell peppers
- Sea salt
You can purchase roasted red peppers at your favorite grocery store. You can also roast them yourself. Just cook them until the skin is blackened. Then place in a sealed bag or container and let them steam.
Cut peppers open and rinse with water to remove skin and seeds. Add the roasted pepper meat to the coconut milk, cumin, and chicken stock. Blend until smooth and consistent.
Sea salt to taste. Chill in the refrigerator before serving for a cool summer soup.
Whip or mash fresh avocado with extra-virgin olive oil. Add your favorite spices and herbs. Chill and serve with organic multigrain chips or kale chips.
Cold Wraps Instead of Traditional Sandwiches
Traditional sandwiches are served on bread which is often highly processed. This makes your digestive system work overtime and raises your body temperature. Why not turn your sandwich into a wrap?
Choose your favorite protein source. You can use lean poultry, grass-fed beef, or wild-caught seafood. Steer clear of deli meats which are highly processed and full of additives. Then simply add all your favorite fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices.
Flavor with a little olive oil and vinegar or avocado-based mayo as a condiment. Wrap in chilled collard green leaves or the leaves of bibb and butter lettuce. This makes for a cold and refreshing, healthy alternative to a traditional bread-based sandwich.
It is important to make changes in our diet and lifestyle during each new season. Summertime is a season of high energy so we need high energy-producing carbs that are naturally available in this season. Follow this healthy summer diet plan to not only lose weight, but gain immunity.