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Thursday, June 5, 2014

5 Summer Health Pitfalls to Avoid

By Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD

summer eating

Summer is here, and as in any season, there are health pitfalls. Here are the top 5 I see most often:

1. Giving up because you didn’t get that swimsuit body: There are certain times of year when you may feel extra pressure to get in shape – summer is definitely one of them.  And if you aren’t able to get to your swimsuit goal in time for summer, you might be tempted to throw your hands in the air, say “oh well, maybe next year,” and then throw healthy habits out the window for the next 3 months.

But it’s important to understand that the real problem with focusing on a swimsuit goal is that you are tying healthy habits to a specific outcome, which is de-motivating.  Instead, form healthy habits for the daily benefits you get, like feeling good, better sleep, and general health.  Bottom line: Focus more on the enjoyment a healthy lifestyle brings than the changes in appearance you expect.

2. Not exercising because it’s too hot: For many, the summer heat throws a monkey wrench into exercise routines.  It doesn’t make sense to go for a run midday when temperatures are at their hottest.  But stopping exercise all summer long isn’t beneficial, either.

Summer is a great time to mix things up with different activities like swimming, hiking, or late afternoon walks or runs (try early morning, too).  And don’t forget – the gym is nice and cool.

3. Ditching meal-plans for the drive-thru: The carefree days of summer might make you too carefree with meal preparation.  When this happens, it’s all too easy to run through the drive-through or graze all day.  Instead, continue planning weekly meals, but keep things simple and leave room for spontaneity (like picnic dinners).

4. Grilling only meat: I enjoy a good hamburger like the next person, but if you cook hamburgers and hotdogs every time you grill, you’ll be missing out on other nutritious foods. Experiment with grilling vegetables, fruit, shrimp, turkey burgers, fish, and even pizza!  And work on some easy, nutritious sides like beans, green and whole-grain salads, and fresh fruit.

5. Getting too many daily calories from beverages: Who doesn’t crave a cool beverage when it’s hot?  But if you start your day with an iced cafe mocha (320 calories), have lemonade with your lunch (150 calories for a 12-ounce serving), and end the day with a few beers (300 calories), your body’s getting extra energy — and sugar — without the same feeling of fullness that food provides.

So choose your beverages wisely by sensibly prioritizing your favorites while experimenting with some new, smarter ones (like lightly sweetened iced tea).  It’s a balancing act!

How does summer change your healthy habits?

Posted by: Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD at 2:38 pm


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