The summer season is nearly upon us. Mother Nature has lifted the veil of chilliness from our lives once again, inviting us to step outside and play. Soon, for many of us, our free time will be filled with trips to the beach, lazy afternoons lounging by the pool, outdoor adventures and backyard barbeques.
During this time of year, there is a tendency to let our cravings get caught up in the season’s vacation vibes. We might find ourselves indulging on sweet summer treats to cool us down on the hot days, we may overeat on savory barbeque packed full of sodium and find ourselves taking extra sips of summer’s refreshing beverages (hello — who can resist a mojito?) While it may be time to let your guard down a little and crank up the summer fun meter, it is certainly not a time to neglect your fitness and wellness goals. Your body still needs nutritional love.
There are an abundance of iconic summer delicacies that are not exactly supportive of your body – like hamburgers, hot dogs, deli meats, greasy chips, bread, cookies, ice cream, alcohol and even condiments containing high amounts of sodium and sugar, causing unwanted inflammation and belly bloating.
The key to enjoying your summer without feeling down about your “vacation diet” is to find ways to make wise choices — especially with your snacking habits. Look for foods that have a high water content, a solid source of fiber and that contain a substantial amount of potassium (in order to combat the summer bloat).
Bring on the Melons to Exile the Bloat
Melons such as cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew are composed mostly of water, averaging a water content of 90 percent or higher. By snacking on these juicy treats, you can increase your body’s overall hydration levels while you take in the summer heat. They are also natural diuretics which help you urinate excess water and sodium from your body. The best news? You can eat as much of these fruits as you want because they are mostly water and low in calories.
For an easy treat to keep handy in your fridge or take to the pool, try pre-making a simple melon salad. Peel and cube your melons, then toss in some lemon juice; this is a great ingredient for de-bloating because the atomic composition of lemon juice is very comparable to our stomach’s digestive juice, saliva, and bile and, therefore, can actually help relieve symptoms of indigestion. Then add a little raw honey and toss in some chopped mint for refreshing flavor.
Let Yourself Veg Out — Literally
Look to tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots for getting some much-needed potassium in your diet. Potassium is a mineral that helps regulate your body’s sodium intake, making it a go-to nutrient for belly-flattening. Hello bikini season!
One medium raw tomato (which is technically a fruit, but often paired with vegetables) contains an average of 280 mg of this bloat-fighting mineral. A cup of sliced and peeled cucumbers contains about 162 mg of potassium and there are approximately 144 mg in one cup of baby carrots (about six or so). All three of these potassium-rich vegetables are also classified as high water content foods. Each one is made up of at least 90 percent water, with cucumbers being the highest.
When it comes to these vegetables, you can combine a few for some easy snacks and side dishes. Cucumbers and carrots served with hummus makes for a rather fulfilling snack —one loaded with potassium, fiber, and protein. The chickpeas that primarily make up the base of hummus are packed full of plant-based protein, leaving you feeling satisfied and curbing your daily snack cravings.
Toss together an quick cucumber and tomato salad for a hydrating dish that can also give you a dose of potassium. Chop up your cucumbers and tomatoes and put into a bowl. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a couple splashes of red wine vinegar. Add a dash of salt and pepper to taste, and experiment with dill or other seasonings. Since cucumbers and tomatoes are both high water content vegetables, feel free to indulge yourself.
Fruity & Nutty Fixes
If you’re in need of a quick go-to snack, look no further than berries, bananas, and raw almonds.
Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are easy to toss into a container as you head out the door on your way to the beach or pool. In fact, they average between 80 percent to 95 percent water. They are also full of fiber which can help food move through the intestines more quickly and decrease abdominal pressure and bloating.
Bananas are easy to take anywhere, so you don’t even need a container to travel with this treat. Aside from being an easy on-the-go snack, this fruit is also one of the best sources for potassium; an average banana contains 400 mg! They are even a great source of fiber, which aside from helping your digestive system, can leave your appetite satisfied.
Grab a handful of raw almonds – about one ounce is equal to a serving. These nuts pack in the potassium and protein, giving you an ample dose of the gut-loving mineral while also providing some much-needed fuel for the day.
While all of these snacks are healthy, fulfilling, and aid in combating stomach bloating, it is important to make sure you’re eating a wholesome diet overall. Experiment and come up with your own style of delicious summer snacking. Stay cool in the process!