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Preparing for Summer


By: Maggie Ward, MS, RD, LDN; Lizzy Maltzman, MS, RD; and Erica Kasuli, MS, RD

It’s that time of year again, where our mind shifts into summer gear. Is summer a bitter sweet time of year for you? On one hand you are looking forward to a slower lifestyle, more time outside, and picnics with friends. On the other hand you feel worried and frustrated about your body and you want to get it ready for those days in the backyard or on the beach.

Eating a well-balanced diet full of whole fresh foods and getting vigorous exercise are the cornerstones of lifelong health. Remember, food is not just calories it is information for your body and your genes! Here are some take home tips for you to get ready for your best summer ever.

Eat Small Regular Meals

Remember to eat a protein-based meal every 3-4 hours, and avoid eating 2-3 hours before bed. Small frequent meals help you control your blood sugar far better than large meals. A well balanced meal consists of:

  • 50% carbohydrates (not the processed kind!)
  • 30% healthy fat
  • 20% protein.

To achieve these ratios just fill half your plate with veggies, a quarter of it with protein, and the remaining quarter with whole grains.

Including protein at each meal will help you control your sugars more easily. Ideal protein sources include:

  • All types beans/lentils
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Nuts and seeds.

As you know, whole food carbs are one of the most important parts of a healthy diet. Focus on:

  • Whole grains such as brown rice, millet, amaranth and buckwheat
  • Root vegetables like sweet potato and squash
  • Fruit, especially those with a fibrous skin or rich colors

Healthy fat is also critical for a healthy diet, and fat does not make you fat despite conventional wisdom. Make sure to include these healthy fats in your diet:

  • Raw nuts, seeds
  • Avocado
  • Unrefined plant oils such as cold pressed extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil.

Optimizing your diet for the summer couldn’t be easier. However, as you have learned on The Daniel Plan, there is more to a healthy lifestyle than eating well. Exercise is another important factor, so let’s take a moment to review what you can do to optimize your exercise routine.

Fast Track your Exercise Routine with Interval Training

In week 6 of the Daniel Plan Dr. Mark Hyman states, "If exercise were a pill, it would be the biggest blockbuster drug of all time." Not only is exercise beneficial for your bones but studies show it enhances mood, increases energy level, helps combat chronic disease by raising HDL, manages weight and leads to healthier sleep patterns to name a few.

We suggest trying interval training for the ultimate calorie and fat burning results. When aerobic exercise is done in short bursts, your metabolism powers up, builds more lean muscles mass, and significantly improves blood sugar balance. Follow this simple plan the next time you exercise:

  • 3 minute warm up
  • 3 minute walk
  • 3 minute jog
  • 1 minute fast run
  • 3 minute walk
  • 3 minute jog
  • 1 minute fast run

Continue this cycle for the duration of your workout. Focusing on short bursts of activity also helps the time go by faster, helping you to avoid boredom with your exercise routine.

Relax for a Healthy Happy Summer

Stress is a killer. It contributes to most chronic illnesses as well as weight gain. Not to mention the fact that it makes it harder to stick to a healthy diet and lifestyle program. Here are three tips that will help you get the R&R you need this summer to keep your body in optimal shape:

  1. Rest – Aim for 7–9 hours of sleep per night, and don’t be afraid to take naps if you can manage.
  2. Try Stretching – It increases your flexibility, improves your overall awareness of your body and is deeply relaxing at the same time.
  3. Engage in Relaxation Techniques – Along with your daily quiet time, try deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. This is an underutilized and underestimated way to heal your body and mind.

In addition to optimizing your diet exercise, and relaxation, the following are some tips that will help you make the most of your summer.

Load up on Natural Sunscreen: Antioxidants

Eating a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is not only good for your waistline and heart, but they also serve as natural sunscreen! Those bright and dark hued fruits we love, such as wild blueberries and cherries, are loaded with antioxidants which help protect our body from the damaging effects of too much radiation. And don’t forget about vegetables! Summer is exploding with fresh vegetables which are at their peak of nutrient vitality. This means that they are bursting with skin-protective antioxidants which will keep you looking and feeling young and fresh.

Enjoy the Summer Bounty: Go for Local and Fresh

Choose fresh, local foods as often as you can. Eating these seasonal foods are a gift from nature: They are beautiful, nutrient dense, tasty and economical. What’s not to love? We highly recommend supporting your local farmer’s market for the best local food options. You can check out the website Local Harvest (www.localharvest.org) for your nearest farmer’s market.

Quality over Quantity

When it comes to feeling your best this summer try to focus on the cleanest and most natural your foods available. To avoid feeling sluggish, fatigued or foggy eat hormone and antibiotic free meat, poultry, eggs and dairy as often as you can. Keep these foods in mind when planning your summer BBQ, but keep it moderate. Remember, vegetables and plant-based protein such as tempeh grill up nicely. Also drink plenty of clean water to stay hydrated and munch on organic fruits and vegetables.

Indulge in Pleasure

Yes… we said indulge! The body is wired for pleasure and summer’s energy is all about pleasure, vitality, abundance and feeling good. When we restrict or deny the body pleasure or, conversely, overindulge, the body becomes inflamed like the summer sun. To stay balanced, repeat this as your mantra: “The dose makes the poison.”

A little quality treat can go a long way. We suggest some dark chocolate and succulent berries for a sweet summer treat. Also, make sure you allow yourself time to enjoy your life and be open to any fun opportunities you have this summer. Studies show that when we are engaged in our life, we don’t rely on food to be our source of pleasure as often. This is really important if you are an emotional eater. When you eat, be present, aware and relaxed. Take time to enjoy all the tastes, textures and colors in your meal. As best you can, eliminate all distractions such as your phone, computer, TV etc. and simply eat while eating! By savoring your food your brain gets the message that your body is being nourished and you will feel satiated sooner and longer than when you eat under stress or distraction.

We hope these tips help you make the most out of the summer. For more information make sure to touch base with use through Dr. Hyman’s Nutrition Coaching Program. We would be more than happy to provide you with more specific summer tips and personalized nutrition information to fit your needs.