Healthy Diets for the Summer: During the summer months, and with the arrival of high temperatures, it is essential to adapt our diet, increase the consumption of certain foods, and limit the intake of less healthy others.
We spoke with Dr. Agustín Molins, a specialist in Nutrition and dietetics at the Dr. Molins Clinic, to learn more about how our diet should be in the summer months.
What Should Foods Not Be Missing From Our Summer Menus?
Healthy Diets for the Summer: Throughout the year, the objective is to obtain the nutrients that our body needs and, for this, we can use the fresh, local, and seasonal products that we have at our disposal.
Please take advantage of salads as a first course and accompany them with a bit of tomato, avocado, or even a little fruit such as apple, pineapple, or berries, such as blueberries. We can incorporate radishes, cucumber, and carrots and use cold creams of zucchini, leek, gazpacho, or salmorejo. If you do not have a very active life, it is essential not to overdo it with the tomato. The tomato is the star of the summer in the peninsula, but despite its excellent properties, it is a fruit, and the sugars that accompany it add up to the daily carbohydrate count.
Are There Some Foods That Should Eliminate From the Diet?
Healthy Diets for the Summer: The foods that we should avoid during the summer months are the same that we should avoid during the rest of the year and some in particular. In general, ultra-processed, poorly processed foods contain high amounts of sugars, trans fats and saturated fats (except for some), white flour, and excessively salty foods.
With good weather, the terraces are appealing, and horchatas, cold fruit juices, ice creams, foods that contain an excess of sugars that are not healthy at all appear. It’s hard to find flavored, fat-free, and sugar-free ice creams, but there are; and you can do it yourself.
In summer, we drink alcoholic beverages more easily: beers and some drinks to quench our thirst, but they are a mistake. We can have a beer, but drinking a glass of water before quenching your thirst and then continuing with a beer is advisable. Always in moderation.
The fruit is more varied in summer and, having a rich water content; we want more to quench our thirst and heat. Taking an excess of fruit is a mistake that we must avoid. Eating just a fruit salad or a refreshing watermelon seems delicious, refreshing, and even healthy. Still, it is overloaded with sugars, contributing to an excess glycemic load and possibly weight gain even if they come from the fruit.
It is essential to avoid ordering less healthy tapas such as patatas bravas, croquettes, “bomba,” and the Andalusian-style battered squid or calamari a la Romana. We can order healthier tapas such as Galician octopus (and skip the caches), pickled anchovies, grilled cuttlefish, and even seafood such as coquinas, cockles, or steamed mussels accompany them with some Tudela buds and some peppers from the padrón.
During these months, we must avoid mustards, hot peppers such as chili peppers, chilies, and the like because, despite their nutritional benefits, they help you sweat more. Better to use them in another season of the year.
What Type of Cooking Should We Follow to Ensure Good Digestion?
Healthy Diets for the Summer: The cooking of food does not vary, be it winter or summer.
The healthiest is to steam, as it is a way to maintain better the few nutrients that remain in our vegetables. Boiling is perhaps the easiest, fastest, and most used, but we must consider some premises. Vegetables require little time to cook. Many people leave the vegetables on the fire without controlling the time. Most vegetables are cooked in boiling water for 8-10 minutes, no more. Extending the boiling time is synonymous with losing nutrients. For this reason, it needed to quickly remove the vegetables from the water once they get boiled so that they do not continue to cook.
The grill with little or no oil and the new non-stick cookware allows you to cook without oil and in a slow way to cook in their fat.
The wok and the oven are still healthy options. Cooking al papillote better maintains the nutrients of the food and enhances the flavor of the cooking.
In summer, raw and cold first dishes such as salads and cold creams, fish or meat carpaccio prioritized more since they are more flavorful for being out. It is essential to wash the vegetables well, especially if you are going to eat them raw. Remember that vegetables oxidize in the air and are affected by the light and the type of cut. Protect them and cut them just before cooking and not into tiny pieces.
How Should The Portions Be?
The interesting thing when measuring the number of things we eat is to keep our activity in mind. If we move more, we can eat a little more. Our daily energy expenditure is usually similar to that of other stations. Still, if we leave the office chair and on our vacations, we increase our physical activity, we will be able to consume more energy in our dishes.
The other way around happens if we go from an active job to a beach chair: less activity, less food.
We must remember that physical exercise is very healthy, but it does not consume much energy. If we believe that we will lose many kilos by cycling more hours a day or having a good time swimming on the beach, we are wrong. Exercise is not a great consumer of energy, but it provides us with a metabolism that we could call “wasting” and allows us to increase our food portions a bit.
What Advice Can We Follow to Maintain Our Weight During the Summer Period?
Healthy Diets for the Summer: Many of us may have done a pre-summer tune-up. When winter clothes remain in the closet, our body is more exposed, and the excesses of winter become palpable not only in front of the mirror.
People who stay active can eat a balanced Mediterranean diet which, together with activity, is one of the best health guidelines. However, in our less active society, cutting down on the carbohydrates that we are not going to consume in exchange for a little more healthy fat can be an excellent option to maintain weight.
If we travel, we change our cuisine; we find local gastronomies that are palatable but often unhealthy and depart from our nutritional scheme. Undoubtedly, this change can affect our weight, so we must try to make few “extra” meals to lose control of our healthy method. If we have a plate of paella, a pizza, some sandwiches, or other unhealthy food, we should not compensate by not eating at dinner or avoiding the snack. We can reduce the amount of the next intake but never skip it. The only possible dietary compensation is to return to normal as soon as possible and increase exercise.
We must not overlook hydration since it is vital for health and eliminates excesses and stored toxins.
To avoid toxic and liquid retentions in general, we can incorporate cold infusions based on green tea, hawthorn, dandelion, or parsley. They help quench your thirst and have a good diuresis at the same time.
How Important is Hydration in These Months?
Hydration is always vital, but in summer, our body perspires more and loses more water that we need to replace due to high temperatures and increased activity. Not hydrating correctly can pose a danger to our health.
We must increase the consumption of liquids, and the best drink to hydrate is water. Even if you spend hours in the office with the air conditioning, the air is usually dry, and therefore, we need more hydration than usual.
Hydration comes from fluid intake and food, so if we eat more fruits and vegetables, they will also help keep our body more hydrated. Be careful with alcohol, even beer, which, because it is liquid, can seem to allow us to hydrate ourselves, and it is not. If we want to have a beer or a cocktail, we must start with a glass of water and drink the beer, always in moderation.
We must also be careful with fruit juices that seem a healthy option to incorporate liquids into our body, but they loaded with sugars, sometimes even added, so they are not the best option to hydrate.
We can flavor the water with lemon, a few slices of refreshing cucumber, ginger, or some mint leaves, which will help us drink the right amount.
Is There a Recommended Diet For the Summer?
Healthy Diets for the Summer means “pattern of life” and includes many more aspects such as sleep, physical activity, avoiding toxins, personal, social, and work relationships, and our hydration and Nutrition.
Using seasonal, fresh, local, varied, colorful foods, without excesses, maintaining 4-5 daily meals spread over 12 hours or less, and drinking plenty of water are the foundations of a diet in summer. The rest of the aspects that complete a healthy diet are easier to achieve in summer. We go out more; we interact more, contribute more, have more time to sleep on vacation, and practice some physical activity. Sunbathing in moderation also helps to increase our body’s vitamin D and to have a better mood.
The Harvard dish is still a good recommendation regarding diet food, with fewer carbohydrates if passive and a little more healthy fats such as avocado, salmon and tuna, some nuts, and olive oil. We can introduce cucumber in the summer diet because it is diuretic, refreshing, low in calories, and helps eliminate toxins. The cucumber, along with the lemon, flavors the water and contributes to your hydration.
Watermelon and melon take center stage. We should not abuse them for their sugar content, which, although it is low, exists, and the amount that some eat is beyond healthy. A couple of servings a day is a good dose.
Decorate your salads with a bit of color, do not exceed the tomato, and add radishes and berries such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries that will generate contrast of flavors and provide many antioxidants and flavonoids.