Kick-Off Your Summer the QUALITARIAN Way!

From flowers blooming to pool openings to grills heating up for the season’s first BBQ’s — May starts the summer thought process. The thought may be, “Uh oh, bathing suit,” or “TGIS (Thank Goodness It’s Sunshine!),” or “Whooaah, what and how am I going to feed the kids for the summer?!?” Worse, it could be a combination of all three plus more.  No matter what summer’s approach triggers for you, May should be a time to design your own “Quality summer plan.” These three tips to developing a “Quality summer plan” should help you find time AND improve your whole family’s overall health.

 

  1. Eat Better Quality: This may get a big “no duh” at first when we reflect on summer’s bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, our desire for lighter fare and the heat’s ability to eat away at our appetite. BUT despite these realities, how many of you also nod “yes” when asked if summer actually means an empty fridge leading to increased traffic in the drive–thru lane? Summer activity leads to thirst and so more sugar-sweetened drinks or smoothies are consumed. Summer’s dream of better health quickly becomes a less quality reality. Summer Fix: Stock the fridge and freezer weekly – aiming to include organic fruits and vegetables. (Yes, frozen is great for you and cheaper in the summer than fresh.) Include wild fish, organic nuts and seeds, whole grains, fresh (or frozen) organic herbs and other staples so that in a pinch you can assemble a quality eating occasion or pull it all out and create a D.I.T. bar (do-it-themselves bar) where they make their salad, put on the pizza toppings, create a breakfast cereal bowl, even top their own ice cream – all with better quality ingredients that you’ve stocked at home.
  2. Cook Better Quality: Cooking at home is the healthier way to go — BUT not if you layer a pan with tablespoons of oil or attempt to “diet cook” food (i.e., steamed fish or chicken breast & veggies) where the result is a flavorless, dry or soggy, boring meal where pouring on fattening, salty or sweet sauces is necessary to give the food crowd pleasing flavor.  With the right cookware and recipes, you can make crowd-pleasing meals fast that will please any crowd. Summer Fix: Get a 360 Cookware stainless steel sauté pan (use code MAYAKA to order cookware online and get 10% off through June), organic spices like dill and oregano or ginger, fresh organic veggies and a piece of wild fish. Follow cooking instructions that come with pan (heat on medium low, add a drop of water, when it dances, add vegetables and fish, cover and cook 4-5 minutes until vapor seal occurs, remove from heat, wait 2-3 minutes), drizzle 1 tbsp of organic olive oil and squeeze half lemon … Enjoy!
  3. Practice Better Hydration: Hydration is way more than water intake – though even adequate water intake can often challenge us – it includes electrolyte balance too. Optimal water intake is critical and about twenty percent of your daily water requirement can come from water-based fruits and vegetables. Your body also needs electrolytes – especially potassium which helps regulate water balance in and out of the cells as well as impacting heart health. Potassium works in opposition to sodium, so while there’s growing awareness of the need to work to achieve better sodium levels (i.e., taking in small amounts of quality salt), we need to work harder at getting in adequate potassium. Summer Fix: Add avocado, potato, banana, greens and/or coconut water to your diet. Each contains a rich source of potassium that will reduce added salt intake. Additionally, aim to consume half your body weight - in ounces - in water daily (if you weigh 200 pounds, then 100 ounces daily — that’s 10 ten-ounce cups of water).

Get a head start on summer so that when summer officially arrives, you will have a plan that includes new eating and drinking ideas and food preparation tips that will save you time while improving your health.

Ashley Koff is an internationally renowned registered dietician who is on a mission to help people get healthy by bringing quality eating into every home. Follow Ashley on Facebook and Twitter for regular tips on creating a QUALITARIAN lifestyle.