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20 Food Hacks for a Healthy Summer

5 MIN READ • 2nd October 2022

With barbecues and holidays calling, summertime can play havoc with your healthy eating plans. Here are some clever tips to help you stay on track

1. Eat seasonally

Make the most of all the fresh fruit and veg available at this time of year – think berry-topped smoothie bowls, fresh salads, cucumber sandwiches… the list goes on. Eating foods when they are in season means they are not only at their tastiest but also most nutritious, plus limiting food miles is better for the environment.

2. Fuel up

Eating well doesn’t mean eating less, so don’t be tempted to skip breakfast, particularly before a workout as you’ll want to maximise your energy levels. “If you want a fuller breakfast before you exercise, try having 40g cooked oatmeal with two egg whites or a whole egg,” suggests Joanna Dase, fitness expert at curves. eu. “Oats provide a slow release of energy throughout the duration of the morning and help to protect your heart health. Eggs are a great source of muscle-building protein as well as choline which is a nutrient vital to brain and liver health.” Fancy something smaller? Joanna suggests apple slices with peanut butter. “The apple is your source of glucose and carbohydrates, and the peanut butter brings in protein and healthy fats,” she explains. It’s wise to allow yourself an hour in between eating and exercising to give your digestion a chance to do its thing.

3. Avo go

A healthy breakfast will also help avoid mid-morning sugar cravings. Along with oats and eggs, avocados are a smart choice. A study published in Nutrition Journal found that eating half an avocado at breakfast time helps to reduce post-meal hunger pangs. These nutritional superstars have twice the potassium of a banana and are packed full of healthy fats and fibre.

4. Slow down

Summer can be super-busy, but try to slow down at mealtimes. Research shows that mindful eating can help with weight loss. Eating mindfully involves taking time to enjoy the food we’re eating, chewing properly and not being distracted by a screen.

5. Get fishy

We all know the health benefits of seafood. Want to eat more good quality, fresh fish but don’t live near the sea or have the time to source it from a traditional fishmonger? Celebrity chef Mitch Tonks is aiming to solve this problem with Rockfish’s Seafood at Home (therockfish.co.uk), a 21st century fishmonger. Rockfish can get sustainable, chef-prepared British seafood delivered to your door the very next day after it lands at Brixham at the click of a button. See the website for details.

6. Keep things simple

When you’re out of your normal routine it can be harder to stay organised and cook healthy dinners every night. Don’t put pressure on yourself to spend ages in the kitchen, or resort to takeaways – often simple suppers rustled up on the cuff are the most satisfying. Could you whip up a risotto using store cupboard staples? How about using leftover veggies for a pasta sauce (blend it and the kids won’t notice the veg)?

7. Don’t get hung up on mealtimes

It sounds obvious, but many of us are so programmed into thinking that we need to stick rigidly to mealtimes that we often don’t consider if we’re actually hungry or not. If you’ve had a larger, later lunch, when it gets to dinnertime you don’t have to eat for the sake of it. We’re not suggesting skipping meals and going hungry, just listening to your body. Maybe have something light, like a salad, or perhaps a smaller portion than usual for dinner?

8. Be souper duper

You might not associate soup with summer eating, but cold soup is incredibly tasty and refreshing on a hot day, not to mention nutritious. Try +Refresh bottled Gazpacho soup (£2.89, renourish.co.uk), which is made with Spanish tomatoes, red pepper and cucumber and bursting with vitamins A, C, and E. Yum!

9. Remember that water works

In case you need another reminder to get your fill of good old H20, drinking two litres a day helps to ward off hunger pangs, keep your concentration and energy levels up, encourages better sleep at night, boosts your skin … need we go on?

10. Simplify your smoothies

We all know that smoothies are a tasty way to help you reach five a day, but making sure you’ve got all the right ingredients to hand can be an effort. Pack’d offers frozen superfood smoothie kits (£1.85, packd.co.uk) so all you have to do is add water (or coconut water, plant milk, etc.) to them and blend. You can also subscribe to regular deliveries.

11. Make friends with your freezer

Here at H&W, we’re big fans of batch cooking and freezing meals so that there’s always something healthy to hand. You can also portion up and freeze ingredients, too. Ready-to-defrost cubed, roasted butternut squash, sweet potato mash or chopped stir-fry veg can all help when cooking in a hurry.

12. Spice things up

Hot summer days lend themselves to spicy food. And adding some heat to your plate could even offer a helping hand when it comes to boosting your metabolism. One study found that women who ate fresh chilli pepper raised their metabolic rate for up to 30 minutes after consumption. Black pepper also contains a compound called piperine that, according to research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, can block the formation of new fat cells.

13. Get on the right side

Barbecued meat, fish and plant-based proteins are usually pretty healthy – it’s the sides and sauces that often let us down nutritionally. So, steer clear of creamy dressings and mayos, and serve with leafy salads and veggies, and wholegrain carbs instead. We love Merchant Gourmet’s Fiery Jamaican- Style Grains and Pulses (£2, Waitrose), a spicy combo of pulses and grains, which is perfect for a quick side dish to summery barbecue meals. It’s a great source of protein, high in fibre and low in saturated fat.

14. Make your own marinades

“Marinades can often be loaded with added sugars, salts, colours and preservatives which can be detrimental to our health,” says nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr (@clenherrnutrition). “Make your own marinades to avoid these concerns and opt for ideas that include herbs such as coriander, as well as lemon, garlic and olive oil.”

15. Cool off

Why make your ice cubes with water this summer when you could add nutrient-rich fruit into the mix too? This is not only a great way to up your vitamin intake but it looks pretty fancy, too! Try it with blueberries, raspberries, lemon or orange slices.

16. Pause before going back for seconds

“Our bodies need around 15 minutes for our hunger and satiety cues to kick in and tell us that we’re full and satisfied,” Clarissa tells us. “If you find yourself feeling tempted to have seconds, wait 15 minutes and see if you’re still hungry. If it’s a craving, you might find it passes. If not, have no more than half a plate of seconds, or fill up on some vegetables instead.”

17. Satisfy a sweet tooth

Sunny days and ice creams are a match made in heaven. Yet those frozen treats can notch up some serious calories for very little nutritional value. For a healthier cooling fix, make your own by blending natural yoghurt and frozen fruit.

18. Get your good fats

Omega three supports everything from heart and brain health to joints, skin and even vision, but it’s not always easy to get enough in your diet, especially if you don’t eat oily fish. If you struggle to get enough in your diet a supplement is a great idea. We love O3 Plant Based Omega 3 (from £23.79, vivolife.co.uk).

19. Make breakfast the night before

You don’t need to scroll far on Instagram to find a decent overnight oats recipe, and you can easily adapt it according to what you like/ have got lying around. Basically, you soak oats in water or milk of your choice overnight, then add any combination of fruit, nuts, nut butter seeds, yoghurt. And voila, a healthy, chilled breakfast in minutes.

20. Aim to tame your summer tipples

We get it, beer gardens, barbecues and other summer social events often involve plenty of booze and foodie temptation. To help avoid over-indulging, alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water – it’s an old trick but it works a treat! Not only will you be saving on boozy calories but you’ll feel better in the morning!

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