Between juggling vacations, summer camps, work, and family time, summers can become hectic. As a result, summer schedules look different from typical daily routines. It may also feel like our health efforts derail, which is why I wanted to offer my top summer health tips to help keep you on track.
Whenever we have a summer vacation coming up my mind automatically turns to food. I know, I know, my mind is alwayssss on the FOOD. I can’t help it. It’s kind of my job and my passion. I start thinking about what healthy road trip snacks I will pack, what meals we will prepare in, and where we will dine out.
Overall the goal is to balance healthy habits with enjoyment in the summer months. Let’s dive in with some of my top summer health tips to help you achieve both.
Summer health tips by an RD
1. Plan, plan, plan!
I am all about planning ahead. Planning ahead is key to staying in charge of your health while on the go. Why? When you are prepared you are less likely to reach for unhealthy options…chips and sodas at the pool concession stand, fast food restaurants on road trips, etc. I don’t know about you but meals and snacks like these leave me feeling bloated, unsatisfied and low on energy.
Look at the week ahead. Which days are busiest? Plan out meals and snacks to make those days run more smoothly.
What does planning ahead look like?
- Keeping healthy snacks on hand (see the list below). Some of my favorites are whole fruits, nuts, baby carrots and dates.
- Pack a lunch box or cooler filled with mini meals and snacks while you are out and about- on road trips, at the pool, the beach or the park. Mom tip: My kids love bento boxes filled with mini meals.
- Have a few easy meals in mind (I call these my back pocket meals) that you can throw together in a flash. Think DIY veggie pizza, spaghetti squash and meatballs, quick veggie or shrimp stir fry, black bean and sweet potato tostadas or frittatas loaded with veggies. Make extra that you can pack for lunches or meals on the go.
2. Pack Healthy Snacks
Summer days can take twists and turns and before you know it you are way off of your routine. That’s why it’s so important to pack healthy snacks. Next thing you know you will be reaching for fast food or skipping meals altogether whether it be from lack of options, availability or you’re just having so much fun that you forget! Skipping is not a great option either so leave home prepared with portable, healthy snacks that travel well in the car, plane or in your bag.
Consider packing snacks that contain a source of protein and fiber and a small amount of healthy fat to keep you satisfied. Scroll to the bottom of the post to see my ideas for on the go healthy snacks.
3. Choose Quality Ingredients
Many packaged and prepared foods are high in sugar, salt and processed ingredients…however it’s not always realistic to prepare each meal from scratch, try as we may. When choosing packaged foods, be sure to always check the ingredients list!
- Simple, whole food ingredients that you can actually pronounce
- A short ingredient list
- Products with nutrient-density…that is they are not full of empty calories but contain calories from healthy fats, protein and fiber
- At least 2 grams of fiber
- Little to no saturated fat and absolutely no trans fat
- Sugar content. Aim for 5% DV or less of added sugars.
- No artificial sweeteners or hydrogenated oils
Did you know that by the time you experience the sensation of thirst you are already dehydrated? Traveling, especially by plane, or being out and about in the summer heat can leave you feeling more dehydrated than normal. Keep your hydration in check by filling a reusable water bottle and bringing it with you wherever you go…whether you are on vacation or running errands.
Staying hydrated keeps your skin soft and healthy, keeps your energy up, wards off headaches and helps you feel your best. A quick guideline for getting in enough ounces is to divide your weight in pounds by 2 (weight (lbs) /2 = baseline daily fluid needs). So a 150-lb individual would aim for 75 ounces of water per day. This is a baseline! More water would be needed for heavy exercise or excess sweating/time spent in the heat to replace losses through the skin and respiration. See my full post on hydration here
5. Don’t forget to move
I couldn’t end my list of summer health tips without including movement. By incorporating healthy habits into your vacation or busy summer schedule you won’t feel like you need a total reset once Labor Day arrives.
Squeeze a little movement into your day whenever you can. It may look a little different than your typical routine and that’s okay! Go for a jog around the block, take a walk outside, or sneak in a few sets of lunges and crunches in your hotel room.
Enjoy the sunshine and longer days by getting outside! Choose fun activities with friends and family that incorporate movement in your day – try kayaking, swimming, stand up paddle boarding, biking, hiking or sunrise or sunset yoga.
How do you stay healthy while on the go or on vacation?
Summer health tips: On The Go Healthy Snacks Round-up
Nut and seed butters
These make a great on the go snack. Pair it with fruit (bananas or apples), veggies (carrots) or whole grain crackers. Scoop into small reusable containers or buy pre-packaged, single serving nut butters.
Homemade Muffins or snack breads
Muffins don’t require refrigeration and can offer a good source of filling fiber. Carbohydrates provide a quick source of energy and fiber helps the energy last. Try these Paleo Morning Glory Muffins. Prep a big batch ahead of time and store in the freezer. You can take one or two with you during the day and they will defrost naturally in the warm summer air. My chocolate chip banana bread is another great packable option alongside a nut butter pack.
Fresh Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and vegetables are available in abundance in the summer. Checkout your local farmers market or CSA (community supported agriculture). Cherry tomatoes taste great this time of year. Baby carrots, sliced peppers, and even salad travel well. Be sure to pack the dressing on the side. Pair your veggie or fruits with cheese or nuts on the side for added protein.
Making your own trail mix is a great way to incorporate satisfying, healthy ingredients into an on the go snack. The combination of dried fruit and nuts provides a good source of protein. Note that trail mixes tend to be high in calories. A quarter cup is a reasonable serving size.
Hummus, veggies and whole grain crackers pack super easily. I like to maximize nutrition by adding nutritional yeast to my hummus. Just 2 tablespoons packs an added 6g protein and 4g of fiber (depending on the brand) and a vitamin B boost!
Easy, packable and holds up in the heat. Another go-to for our fam.
A handful of nuts goes a long way. Nuts are satiating with their protein and healthy fat content. Almonds are an excellent, heart healthy choice.
No bake energy bites
No bake energy bites are another tried and true packable, on the go snack. A simple search on Pinterest yields countless recipes for energy bites. Stick to healthful whole ingredients such as oats, nuts, seeds, dates and nut butters. Some even incorporate protein powders for added nutrition. I like this added protein recipe by Ambitious Kitchen.
Protein bars offer an easy packable option for snacking. Look for a shorter ingredients list without added sweeteners. Some good options include RXBAR’s, Lara bars, GoMacro bars and Kind bars.
Shelled edamame and roasted chickpeas, either homemade or packaged, are a great addition to summer snacks and lunches. They provide added prebiotic fiber and plant based protein. They pack easily, provide satiety and balance blood sugar. An all-around top pick.