5 Diet Changes You Should Make Before Summer, from a Nutritionist

Looking to have enough energy to enjoy all your favorite summer activities? Here are some ways you can support your diet as you prepare your body for summer.

picnic basket and candles on the sand at the beach
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With summer quickly approaching, the outdoors calls: Cookouts, camping, and trips to the beach are just around the corner. But getting ready for summer doesn’t have to mean losing weight or restricting your diet. Instead, focus on creating new healthy habits that help increase your energy levels so you can enjoy all the fun activities summer has to offer like swimming, hiking and riding bikes.

To help us get ready for the summer months, Theresa Gentile, MS, RDN, CDN, and National Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages us to take a holistic approach when it comes to our diet. “Stay hydrated, eat a diet high in lean proteins, high-fiber carbohydrates and heart-healthy fats to provide sustaining energy,” she advises. Here are her top tips to give your diet a seasonal switch-up.

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Ripe in season peaches and plums for sale at a farmers market
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1. Eating in season

With each season change brings new activities and in-season produce. Eating in-season has many benefits for your health and can be a great way to stay in tune with your body as the seasons and your cravings change.

To prepare for the summer months Gentile suggests starting “to avoid heavy meats and fats as they delay gastric emptying and take longer to digest. Also, salty foods should be limited as they can draw water out of cells once it enters the digestive tract and the blood stream. This can increase your water requirements throughout the day when you may already be sweating and losing more water and electrolytes than in colder months.”

As the weather gets hotter, Gentile recommends focusing on in-season produce. “There’s lots of hydrating and refreshing fruits and vegetables in season during the summer,” she says. “Enjoy fruits, such as peaches, apricots, cherries, plums, and melon. Vegetables like arugula, bell peppers, zucchini and corn are in season during the summer.”

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top view of a healthy homemade summer popsicle snack of frozen greek yogurt mixed with fresh fruit
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2. Stock up on healthy summer snacks

As summer approaches, you might notice your meal and snack cravings shifting from the heavier foods we crave in the winter to lighter and fresher foods. Gentile suggests adding summer snacks to your diet to support your body’s energy levels throughout the day and keep you hydrated.

“It’s ideal to have something with some protein and complex carbs,” she says. “It’s tempting to reach for ice cream, but I love popping a Greek yogurt in the freezer combined with nuts or fruit, juicy watermelon or frozen grapes and blueberries, trail mix, energy balls and my homemade chocolate chickpea peanut butter ice pops.”

This is her favorite recipe, which makes about six pops:

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup plain yogurt or Kefir
  • ⅔ cup chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup skim milk (more or less depending on your liking)

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into ice pop molds. Freeze. Enjoy!

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hand holding a pink electrolyte drink to increase hydration during the summer time
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3. Stay hydrated

It’s important to stay hydrated during the warmer months when many of us enjoy more outdoor activities. Gentile advises drinking more water and looking to electrolytes for extra hydration.

“Electrolyte drinks can be an effective way to replenish lost fluids and minerals,” Gentile says. “If you’re losing a lot of fluid or sweating, it’s important to replace electrolytes and minerals in addition to plain water. Look for an electrolyte drink that doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners, isn’t very high in overall sugar and one that is free of artificial colors.”

Also, don’t forget about yummy seasonal fruit. “Fruit can help you stay hydrated (some fruits are 80-90% water) and contain vitamins and minerals,” Gentile says. Her favorite fruits for a little extra hydration include watermelon and cantaloupe.

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top view of a group of friends having a cookout and grilling healthy plant based foods and kabobs
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4. Healthy cookouts

If a cookout is on your itinerary this summer, Gentile advises making sure you have healthy options on hand. “Provide lots of fruits and vegetables, either set out nicely as crudités or grilled on the barbecue,” she recommends. “Also, provide some plant-based proteins, like cold bean salads or whole wheat pasta salads. Skewering meat on a kabob can also cut down on the amount of meat while adding vegetables to each skewer.”

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5. Enjoy the summer

The most important thing to think about as we prepare our body for the summer is paying close attention to how we are nourishing our body with fresh produce, water and exercise as we head into the warmest time of the year.

“Remember to have fun and not stress over how the media hypes up ‘bikini season,'” Gentile says. “Enjoy making memories with friends and family during this special, short season.”

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Medically reviewed by Latoya Julce RN, BSN, on June 06, 2023

Katie Bressack INHC, AADP
Katie Bressack (www.katiebressack.com) is a holistic nutritionist with a specialty in hormonal health; such as painful periods, PCOS, heavy/irregular periods, amenorrhea and thyroid imbalances, post birth control, pre/postnatal and preparing for pregnancy. Katie also helps women transition through perimenopause and menopause. Katie has also supported businesses through corporate wellness programs for twelve years. Some of her corporate clients include Mattel and Guthy-Renker. Katie lives in LA with her hubby, identical twin boys and their dog Piper.