Every year we’re faced with the same questions: How to quench our thirst? What to eat when we’re too hot and bothered to cook? How to eat healthily and not gain any weight while our social calendar is busier than it is in the winter months?
Here are some suggestions:
Stay hydrated. When the temperature rises, so does your thirst. Drink up, but don’t overdo it with sugared beverages and high-calorie alcohol.
• Water is always my No. 1 beverage of choice. Since it has zero calories and comes free out of your tap, there’s no reason not to overindulge. If you don’t love plain water, try adding some fruit to enhance its flavor—lemon, lime, cucumber, orange, watermelon.
• Seltzer, sparkling water, or club soda can also be enjoyed with a little fruit, or simply on its own. Another option is to toss some frozen grapes into your seltzer, for sweetness and cold crunch.
• Love your iced coffee? Make sure to limit the amount of added sugar, syrup, or whole milk; you don’t want your cup of joe to become a dessert.
• Piña coladas, strawberry daiquiris, frozen margaritas—maybe on an occasion, but not as your regular drinks. They definitely have too many calories for anyone who wants to stay feeling great for the summer.
• White or rosé wine, light beer, or even a vodka with seltzer could be your best bets, but watch how many of them you sip. These may be the best summer drinks, calorie-wise, but consuming too many of them still gathers too many calories.
• Alternate between sparkling water or seltzer and alcohol; this helps quench your thirst, so you don’t over drink.
Fire up the grill. It may feel too hot outside to cook, but if you have a grill, then you should be using it. If you don’t have a grill, you could always buy a George Foreman grill or a grill pan and pretend you are outside. Not turning on the oven is key when faced with a hot and humid day.
• Make skewers alternating shrimp marinated in olive oil and lemon with chunks of peppers, onions, and cherry tomatoes.
• Grill you favorite fish “steak,” i.e. salmon, swordfish, or tuna rubbed with a little olive oil and spices.
• You can also put flakier fish wrapped in foil on the grill, such as sea bass, red snapper, or halibut.
• As an alternative to the usual hamburger, try veggie burgers or chicken or turkey burgers (white meat only). Or go for the ground beef, but choose chopped sirloin.
• For some delicious veggies, slice zucchini and eggplant into large strips and throw them on the grill with portobello mushrooms, all lightly tossed in olive oil.
Enjoy a salad. Many people prefer a cold meal to a hot meal when the temperature rises, and you should be taking advantage of the many fruits and veggies available at this time of year. But make sure you are creating a healthy salad, not diet disaster.
• Include lots and lots of greens and other raw veggies.
• Make sure to include one protein, i.e. shrimp, chicken, eggs, beans, or tofu. Watch your portion here; more doesn’t mean better.
• Add a healthy fat, but don’t overdo. If you want avocado (1/4 of an avocado equals one portion) enjoy, then make sure not to pile on the cheese or nuts. If you are in the mood for feta, use just one heaping tablespoonful. If you want more, lose the avocado (1 ounce of feta equals one portion).
• Lose the croutons; if the crisp veggies simply aren’t crunchy enough for you, sprinkle on some crushed walnuts, slivered almonds, or sunflower seeds.
• Avoid creamy dressings; opt for more of the olive oil–and-vinegar-based ones. No matter what, stick to two tablespoons of dressing; if you need more, just squeeze some fresh lemon on the salad or drizzle on some balsamic vinegar.
Don’t lose your will at a BBQ. Maybe your friends or family don’t always plan a healthy menu, but this doesn’t have to be an excuse for you to eat poorly.
• Have a light snack before you go, so you aren’t starved when you get there.
• Ask your host if you can bring a mixed green salad for everyone to start the meal with.
• If hot dogs and hamburgers are being served, have one. Just one.
• Watch out for salads made with a lot of mayonnaise. Offer to bring coleslaw made with oil and vinegar.
• Enjoy the corn on the cob, but not smothered in butter. Squeeze some lime on it instead.
• Bring a healthy dessert of delicious, in-season berries.
• Don’t let the host automatically refill your wineglass.
So, enjoy your summer. Make time for exercise, eat healthily, and wear plenty of sunscreen. Time goes so quickly: Before we know it, we’ll be worrying about how to stay healthy during the holidays.