During summer we all eat differently from the rest of the year. High temperatures, holidays, and a lot of outdoor activities require an adapted eating routine. We are also usually less motivated to cook during the summer, both because of interrupted schedules and higher temperatures that make turning on the oven seem miserable.
It can be really easy to turn to simple (but usually unhealthy!) to-go foods to solve our summer meal problems. But that is the quickest way to lose that summer body -- and get into bad health habits! To combat this, we suggest having quick and easy summer foods on hand that don’t require much preparation but will save you from the temptation to just get take-out again.
Unique Summer Problems
First, the summer brings extra health factors to take into consideration when picking healthy snacks in summer.
Obviously, we all sweat more in the summer because of the heat. This means we need to drink more (water...not other beverages!) or eat foods with high water content to replace our lost body liquid.
We can also become dehydrated in the summer due to loss of electrolytes as well as water. These are the minerals responsible for the water levels in our body. Foods containing electrolytes (which are sodium, phosphorus, potassium and chloride) are very important. Electrolytes not only are involved in maintaining the body water content but also in things like blood pressure, nerve signal transmission and muscle contraction.
Skin damage from sun exposure:
We spend lots of hours outdoors in summer. This means our skin is exposed to possibly harmful UV radiation, which can lead to a host of problems including skin cancer.
The good news is that you can actually do something with the right foods to protect your skin, which is called endogenous photoprotection. This is a biochemical process that helps organisms to cope with damage of the skin caused by sunlight. Endogenous means from within, so in our case that includes eating the right foods.
Of course, proper sunblock block is mandatory to protect against sunburn, but foods containing special micronutrients can also help to fight oxidative damage and protect from cancer.
Dietary sun protection is provided by so-called phytochemicals, which are chemicals produced by plants. Those phytochemicals in general have positive effects on our body (e.g.: carotenoids, tocopherols, ascorbate, flavonoids). Omega-3 fatty acids also help to protect the skin.
You can find them in fresh fruit and vegetables (preferably orange-red colored ones like berries, carrots, mangos) but also in red wine and dark chocolate. Foods high in omega-3 are fatty fish, walnuts or chia seeds for example.
Summer Snack Groups
With these extra challenges in mind, let’s jump right into the “healthy summer snack pool” and get ideas on how to snack while provide optimal benefits for your body and enjoy the taste and the summer. In each different food category, we will pick our favorite snack to help you take the guesswork out of what to eat.
One of the best parts about summer is all the fresh, juicy fruit!. there are many fruits to choose from, so choosing from a variety of colors will help you get a range of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. Fruit also has a high water content so it will help you to stay hydrated.
Okami’s Top Summer Snack Pick - Watermelon: Watermelon is basically the fruit of summer. It is sweet and so refreshing! Watermelon also has a lot of benefits for your body. It’s high content in vitamin A and C can help protect your skin. A study found that lycopene, found in watermelon, can help to reduce blood pressure. Choline, another ingredient of watermelon, helps with proper liver, brain and muscle function, as well as maintaining a healthy metabolism. On top of that it helps hydrate your body with over 90% of water content and with only 30 kcal/100g is will not put in danger your bikini body. This fruit is our summer star.
Other great choices are: Berries, pineapple, pomegranate and mango.
Other great choices are: Cucumber, dark green leafy veggies, tomatoes and bell peppers.
Healthy Summer Fat:
Sounds a bit contradictory, but it is a fact that fat doesn't make you fat. The right fat, that is. Healthy unsaturated omega 3 fatty acids are incredibly beneficial for your health -- they should be on your plate every day! In summer, they can be used to prepare tasty dip sauces to eat with veggie sticks, fruit or veggie crisps.
Other great choices are: fresh veggies drizzled with olive oil and grilled fish like salmon.
Healthy Summer Proteins:
When talking about protein, we automatically think about meat. But plant-based protein is more and more trendy nowadays and a lot of studies are showing that it can be better for both you and the plant to get your protein from primarily plant-based sources.
Other great choices include: eggs, fresh fish and plant-based proteins like spinach and peas.
Healthy Summer Carbs
Carbohydrates provide our body with energy. You should always go for complex carbs versus refined carbs, which means choosing natural, whole grain products instead of processed products which are high in refined (white) sugar. In simple terms: Eat whole grains not chocolate bars. All whole grains provide us with carbohydrate, protein, minerals and vitamins.
Of course, oats are just one of the many healthy complex carbs that make for good summer snack bases. Quinoa, seeds and legumes are also good options.
The Bottom Line:
There is a load of healthy and tasty foods to enjoy in summer. They all help your body to cope with summer challenges. Most of the recommended foods are super easy to prepare and to take them with you when going to the beach or other outdoor activity. Nature offers so many different types of fruits and vegetables, and these are great when complemented with healthy sources of fats, proteins and carbs. Pulling from our top picks for these categories will help your body be nourished to stay active and healthy during this summer season.