We look forward to summer all year (especially us Canadians!). Bright warm mornings, long summer nights, weekends at the cottage, and summer vacations with friends and family. With all the awesomeness that summer brings, it also brings extras: extra sugar, extra wine, extra appetizers, and extra poor quality sleep. All of these extras may have you feeling tired, moody, sluggish, bloated and not feeling your best in those summer clothes you’ve waited all year to wear.
A big part of my nutrition philosophy, and what I help clients achieve is finding your personal balance when it comes to health and wellness. I don’t like restrictive diets because they’re not balanced, not sustainable, and quite frankly squeeze all the joy out of life. That being said, I do believe in rules. For example, I would love a glass of rosé with brie cheese and kettle chips every night, but if I did that, I wouldn’t feel and look my best. I’ve established a set of rules for myself around drinking wine and having brie and kettle chips. Following those rules gives me boundaries, but doesn’t restrict me from eating and drinking what I enjoy. I’ve found my balance in this area. That being said, this balance is a lot easier to follow when you’re in a routine. Throw cottage weekends, evenings on patios and summer vacations into the mix and the rules are a lot harder to follow.
So how can we enjoy everything that summer has to offer, and still feel and look our best? One of the most important tips to stay balanced this summer is to continue your healthy rituals - maybe that’s exercising 5 days a week, starting your day with lemon water or prepping fruits and veggies for easy grab and go snacks. The summer extras are inevitable, but it’s important to maintain your healthy habits so that you feel good this summer, and come September when the extras are no longer in the mix, you can seamlessly transition back into your routines without feeling like you’re starting at square one.
Avoid added sugar in food and drinks!
My top 3 recommendations for staying balanced this summer:
1. Minimize excess refined sugar,
2. Find healthy ways to cope with stress and
3. Get good quality sleep (tips for #2 and #3 in part 2)
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting sugar intake to 24g or 6 tsp. per day (that's added sugars from white/brown sugar, honey, corn syrup). Sugar spikes blood glucose levels (sugar from fruit also has fibre, which slows the release of glucose into the blood stream, and are not included in the daily 6 tsp. limit), which can lead to cravings, weight gain, hormonal imbalance, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Excess sugar can affect our mood, energy levels and sleep quality (1).
If you love dessert, choose one time of the day to have it, and reach for homemade treats that use monk fruit sweetener, dates or bananas, or enjoy a few squares of dark chocolate (at least 70%). Try making homemade “ice cream” by blending frozen fruit, unsweetened nut butter and nut milk:
Strawberry "Ice Cream"
2 frozen bananas
1 cup frozen strawberries
2 tbsp. unsweetened coconut milk (or any nut milk you like!) 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter
Blend until creamy (approximately 3-5 minutes). Save 1/4 cup of strawberries to add in at the end if you like your ice cream with some texture.
Enjoy immediately for soft serve or freeze for an hour before eating. Enjoy!
In addition to sweet treats beware of sneaky added sugar in summer beverages. I’m not promoting drinking alcohol, but if you like a cold glass of wine on a hot summer evening, consider sipping low-sugar wines, which contain 5 g/L of sugar or less. Rosé is one of my favourite wines to enjoy in the summer, and the Kim Crawford Rosé is 4g/L and their Sauvignon Blanc is only 2g/L. I also love the Oyster Bay Chardonnay, which is 3g/L. To find the sugar content of any wine, check the g/L on the LCBO shelf label in-store. Mixing half the wine with club soda or natural flavoured bubbly water to make a spritzer is a great way to lighten up your wine too. If you prefer cocktails consider making "mini" cocktails. For example, if a margarita calls for 1oz. of tequila, use 1/2 oz. Seltzers are all the rage right now, and some brands like Cottage Springs have options with 0g of sugar per can. And remember, always have a big glass of water after every drink!
If you prefer mocktails, try sipping Kombucha (I love Synergy Raw Kombucha with 0 added sugar and only 50 calories per bottle), or make my Apple Spritz mocktail that uses my favourite "ace up your sleeve" ingredient: apple cider vinegar (ACV). ACV helps control hunger and cravings and can help with weight loss (especially around that stubborn mid section):
🍹Half can bubbly water
🍹1 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar (raw, unpasteurized)
🍹1 tsp. 100% cranberry juice
I’m so excited about this recent mocktail discovery for a few reasons:
1️⃣It tastes like Kombucha, which I love, but can be pricey to stock daily - this is a cheaper alternative with more health benefits!
2️⃣It makes it easy and delicious to incorporate one of my fave fermented foods - apple cider vinegar (ACV)
3️⃣ACV is mostly known as a source of probiotics, which is beneficial for gut-health and deflating a bloated belly but…
4️⃣ACV is an ace up your sleeve when it comes to controlling hunger and cravings as it can stabilize blood glucose levels (when these levels spike and dip, we tend to always feel hungry or crave sugar, carbs),
5️⃣One 12-week study showed that ACV significantly reduces weight, body fat (specifically around mid-section) waist circumference and triglycerides (type of fat found in the blood).
Hopefully this mocktail will have you skipping the rosé on weeknights, and controlling those cravings for kettle chips :) Cheers!
More tips on how to stay balanced this summer coming soon!