Summer is finally here! Looking forward to a slower pace and a little more rest and relaxation?  With warmer weather, we often think about a less structured, more relaxed routine, but this doesn’t mean that your nutrition has to take a vacation.  When I think about summer, I immediately think about backyard barbecues, heading to the neighbourhood ice cream shop, or cooling off with an iced latte. A juicy burger meal from your local take-out, topped off with a double-scoop ice cream cone, may seem like the ideal summer feast. However, foods like these are almost always higher in fat, sugar, salt, and calories than meals and desserts made at home. Instead of letting your good nutrition go on vacation, think of summer as the perfect time to get active and make healthier food choices. Summer activities like walking, cycling, rollerblading, and jogging can actually work off extra pounds of winter comfort foods.  Try these simple nutrition strategies to keep your health while you enjoy a summer full of good tastes.

Tame those Temptations

Summer is a time when we do not want to feel deprived, but also want to maintain good health and optimal energy levels.  Aim for balance.  Ensure you include both protein and carbohydrates in your meal. This will help reduce cravings and keep you fuelled throughout the day.  For protein, consider an egg, a handful of nuts, a slice of cheese, or a few ounces of lean meat or fish.  Balance out your meal with whole grain carbs (whole wheat pasta, brown rice).  Add legumes like kidney beans, lentils, and chickpeas to your meals whenever you can.  Try a cold bean salad instead of a calorie-laden creamy potato or macaroni salad. Legumes contain both carbohydrates and protein, double bonus!

Away on Vacation? Choose Healthy Meals Away from Home!

Dining out may seem like a treat at the start of your holiday but the novelty wears off quickly. Restaurant meals often contain increased amounts of extra fat, sodium, and carbs.  Looking for some ordering tips?  These are my tried and true best bets:

  • Start your meal off right with a simple salad or a broth-based soup.
  • Order half portions or lunch-sized servings when possible.
  • Ask for salad, raw vegetable sticks or steamed vegetables instead of fries.
  • Look for items on the menu that are broiled, baked, grilled, steamed or poached. Avoid deep-fried or breaded options.
  • Ask for dressings and sauces on the side, and make it a rule to use less than you are given.
  • Consider fresh fruit for dessert.



A better option to save your health (and money!) is to prepare quick and easy meals away from home.  Have fun exploring local farmers’ markets for healthy choices (freshly picked produce, whole grain breads and buns) as part of your sightseeing plan.  Check out the grocery store at your travel destination for ingredients to create simple, healthy meal options.  Purchase lower fat yogurt, fruit, and whole-grain granola for quick breakfast parfaits.  Select whole-wheat tortillas or pitas, bagged salad, hummus, lean sliced meat, and sliced or shredded cheese for healthy lunch wraps.

Create a family ‘dashboard-dining’ picnic.  Pack a variety of finger foods like cheese cubes, whole grain crackers, yogurt or pudding cups, raw vegetable sticks, and whole fruit for the car.  Great options include grapes, carrots and celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, bananas, and apples. Fruits are the perfect portable snack, already packaged in their own skin and ready to go.  Find some roadside fruit and vegetable stands and you are ready for the day!

Barbecue Smart

Grilling is a great way to keep your healthy eating goals on track.  Try barbecuing marinated skinless chicken or salmon.  For healthier burgers, try ground chicken or turkey, portobello mushrooms, or veggie burgers.  Complete the meal with mixed grilled vegetables, vegetable kebabs, or slow-roast sweet potatoes in foil.  With so many fantastic grilling options, it is easy to limit high-fat hot dog wieners, and pre-made frozen burger patties.

Indulge in Local Produce

The season is short, so be sure to enjoy as much local produce as possible.  Fresh vegetables and fruits are loaded with a winning combination of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fibre.  Fruits and vegetables also have the bonus of being low in fat and calories.  Make plenty of green salads, fruit salads, and cut up vegetable trays for you and your family to enjoy.  Be sure to indulge in each of nature’s treats as it comes into season.  Our season usually starts early with asparagus and local strawberries.  Once they are finished, enjoy new green beans along with raspberries and early tomatoes.  Freeze some local treasures like berries for use in late fall and winter.

Use a Treat Budget when Dealing with DessertsIMG_0423

If every hot sunny day includes gelato, or an iced latte, it adds up. Still, it is hard to pass up these refreshing, cool treats. A treat budget can help.  Instead of depriving yourself, limit higher-calorie treats to once or twice a week.  When choosing a sweet fix, try lighter options like low-fat frozen yogurt and ice milk frozen desserts. A fruit smoothie or Indian lassi made with fat-reduced yogurt and mangoes, or seasonal fresh berries and fruits are other tasty choices.  If you can’t resist a hot fudge sundae or banana split, choose the smallest size, or consider sharing your treat.

Long Summer Evenings are Not a Green Light for Late-Night Snacking

Long daylight hours often set us up for late night socializing, snacking, and consuming high-calorie alcoholic beverages. Having one or two evening drinks in your backyard can add significant unwanted pounds over the summer months.  Alcoholic beverages are often paired with high-fat snacks like nachos and potato chips, giving you a double calorie dose. Instead, enjoy a wine spritzer with a slice of lemon (half wine and half soda water), or a de-alcoholised or light beer.  Pair mineral water with a refreshing slice of citrus fruit.

Be Sure to Enjoy the Outdoors

There is nothing like an early morning walk, a dip in the pool, or a bike ride through the park to jump-start your summer day.  This special season passes quickly, so be sure to maximize your time outdoors by enjoying warm-weather activities, so you will not have regrets when the leaves start to fall.