Easy choices for a healthy summer
By Bree Neison, PLDN, Clinical Dietitian
Pardee UNC Health Care
As travel and social distancing restrictions ease thanks to the COVID-19 vaccines, things are starting to open up again this summer. Maybe you have plans to travel, attend get-togethers with loved ones, go camping or hang out at the lake. Whatever your summer plans, it’s possible to stay healthy and enjoy yourself. Here are a few simple tips for a healthy, enjoyable summer - wherever you are.
1. Make healthy swaps.
There’s no need to deny yourself your favorite dishes at a party or picnic when you’re trying to eat healthier – simply make some easy swaps that also add extra nutrients. For example, try avocado or Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise, add whole grains like quinoa to your salads, grill turkey or veggie burgers, use fresh herbs like mint and basil for flavor instead of salt, wrap your burger in a lettuce leaf instead of a bun or enjoy sparkling water or unsweet tea instead of soda.
2. Load up on fresh produce.
During the summer, we have an abundance of fresh produce. At each meal, aim to fill half your plate with fresh vegetables. Try a side salad, roasted or grilled veggies, or crudites (assorted sliced raw veggies) for healthy fiber, vitamins and nutrients.
3. Visit the farmers market or grow your own food.
When food is local and in season, it often tastes better and is usually much cheaper. If you’re new to gardening, plant a few herbs in a planter on your porch or patio. Visit your nearest farmers market and try a new fruit or vegetable. Ask the grower their favorite way to prepare it – you may find a new go-to recipe.
4. Choose fruity desserts.
So many wonderful fruits are in season during the summer months, which makes it a great time to make fruit-based desserts. Serve sliced watermelon, fresh berries with Greek yogurt, baked fruit topped with granola, or homemade fruit pops for dessert.
5. Get active.
Take advantage of our region’s beautiful parks, hiking trails, lakes and rivers. Pick any activity you enjoy, such as walking, swimming, hiking, cycling, kayaking, playing tennis or throwing the frisbee with your dog. If you’re traveling, take a walk to sightsee or walk laps around the airport. Try to get some form of physical activity every day.
6. Stay hydrated.
Staying well-hydrated is always essential for good health, but perhaps never more so than during the hot summer months. Sip water throughout the day. If you’re playing sports or exercising outdoors for an extended period of time, alternate water with coconut water or other electrolyte-rich drink to replenish the electrolytes you lose in your sweat. If you have a hard time drinking enough water, carry a water bottle with you at all times, try sparkling water, or add sliced fruit to your glass or water bottle for added flavor.
7. Keep alcohol in check.
If you choose to drink, limit it to no more than one drink a day if you’re female or no more than two drinks a day if you’re male. Make cocktails with seltzer water and a squeeze of grapefruit or lime instead of sugary mixers. Fill half your wine glass with sparkling water or seltzer to make a spritzer. Choose a “light” beer. And be sure to stay hydrated – alternate each alcoholic beverage with a glass of water.
With these tips, it’s possible to enjoy summer activities while also taking care of yourself, so you feel energized and healthy. For more health and wellness tips, visit www.pardeehospital.org.
Neison is a registered dietitian at Pardee UNC Health Care.