Here we are in part 2 of “A Mama’s Guide to a Fit Summer!” Be sure to check out part 1: exercise!
Healthy eating. It’s hard enough to do during the year amongst the craziness of the day, but throw in the summer and it takes another twist! Some of you may find healthy eating easier in the summer than the rest of the year–and in some ways it is. Lighter fares, crisp veggies, hot days begging you for cool water and more.
But there’s a flip side too.
and did I mention ice cream and hot dogs?
Maybe this isn’t your life, but it sure is mine! We are very social in the summer (and who can blame me with the winters Ohio has been having?!) so we are out and about with lots of friends and family!
Add the fact that the days are longer and we are out longer, our eating time frame opened up. How can we manage our life yet enjoy what’s around us? As I mentioned in the first part of this series, it doesn’t matter the actual season of life that we are in—we have to work with what’s around us. There will be no perfect time when eating healthy is easy!
HOW you go about this will depend on:
a) your goals
b) your personality
c) your trade-offs
You see–there is no one cookie cutter answer to these roadblocks. What I suggest for one person will not work for another. I want you to become the detective in your health!
CHALLENGE: Eating closer to bedtime
As I mentioned before, my eating time frame adjusts in the summer, just as my sleeping time does. During the regular year, I stop eating around 7pm and don’t pick up again until 7-8am the next day, giving me a good 12 hour fast. (Bedtime is around 10-11 and my wake time is 5:30am.) Now that it’s summer, those times have shifted greatly. I haven’t even been getting home until 8:30 or 9 (generally from baseball games!) so I am eating way past my 7pm slot. And let’s talk about social events. You probably deal with this during the year on the weekends, but if you are hanging out with friends at a BBQ or Girls night, more than likely, you are out past your regular time. It’s easy to socialize and eat, right? So what are we to do?
1) Adjust your eating times
I try to keep to this but there are some nights where it just ain’t happening. So if I know it’s going to be one of those nights, I just adjust my eating during the day for that. I start eating a little bit later in the morning (which generally takes care of itself because I’ve slept in a bit) and then space my meals out from there.
2) Be mindful of WHAT you are eating that late.
I know–it’s hard to not want to pile down a big bag of tortilla chips and salsa at 9:30pm, but do your best to make wise choices. Our willpower decreases as the day prolongs which is why so many struggle with late night eating. Plan ahead and even ask your hubby or a friend to keep you accountable. Try my apple nachos for a good option or some cottage cheese and fruit! (or salsa if you want savory!)
CHALLENGE: Ice cream, ice cream, and more ice cream
I must admit. I am not a huge ice cream fan. (I have not, however, ever turned down Cool Whip!) If it’s not ice cream, I’m sure it’s something else. Maybe it’s a mojito you and your hubby enjoy after a long summer day, or that fresh berry pie you can’t keep our hands out of. And let’s not forget S’mores! What’s a summer without them? We have all these chances to eat all these sweet treats that we generally put in the “summer only” category. How can we manage this?
1) Shift your thinking
ANY TIME, you can go get ice cream. At ANY TIME, you can make S’mores. At ANY TIME, you can grab a mojito. When you take that intensity of “ohmyworditssummerandineeditnow”, you can breathe a little. Are there things you are most apt to have because it’s summer? Sure, but taking away that “pressure” goes a long way.
2) Plan those treats as best as you can.
There’s always a chance on baseball game nights that we will be getting something to eat after–be it ice cream or out to eat. I adjust my eating during the day in case this happens and then what that time comes, I don’t feel like I’ve overeaten. It’s about balance
3) Say no.
It’s true. you can just say no, friends! Make sure it’s really worth it. Remember your goals I mentioned above?
4) Take bites.
I don’t order my own ice cream cone, but usually lick off my kids. (They need the help, right?) I’ll not order knowing there will be some things leftover, or I’ll just order a kid portion.
CHALLENGE: BBQ’s, graduation parties, etc where you don’t have control over the food
It’s one thing to attend a girls night out and ask to bring a side dish that you know you can eat. It’s another to attend an event where it would be really odd to bring a side dish. Just a few weekends ago, we had 2 graduation parties and a birthday party to attend. How can I stay on track when I am presented with little to no foods that keep me on track?
1) Eat beforehand
I ate a protein shake before I went to those events so I wasn’t going to inhale everything I saw.
2) Be flexible
At one party it was burgers and hot dogs. I made the burger bunless, loaded up on veggies, grabbed a water and sat down. Think out of the box a little bit.
3) Move away from the food
Perhaps the hardest part (at least for me) of social events is being near the food. When it’s there, I want to eat it whether I’m hungry or not! Position yourself away from the chip bowl, the candy dish, or the drinks. Walk around and visit with a water bottle in hand. Go play with the kids (because you know they aren’t eating until they say they are STARVED 5 minutes before you leave!) or help the hostess clean!
4) Don’t flip out if you do indulge
I get it. You get to the party and they have the Doritos you never bring in your house, or amazing ice cream pie. I am all about balance. If you feel like the splurge is worth it, go for it! The trick is to not over-consume. Portion out a reasonable amount and then throw your plate away and be done.
At a Girls Night last summer. Did I eat this or not? Hmmm….I’ll leave you guessing!! (Hint: YES! LOL)
CHALLENGE: It’s been a long day with the kids. I am hot, tired and don’t want to cook!
I’ve had those days! Maybe you ran all day, or spent the day at the pool, or went on an impromptu visit to the zoo. I mean, this is part of the fun of summer, right? Flexibility? Less of a schedule? That makes it hard for getting meals on the table! Try these options:
1) Make breakfast for dinner.
Keep eggs, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, fruit on hand at all times. This requires minimal prep and even less time cooking.
2) Leftovers and snacks
Pull out the veggie tray (it’s one of my best tips to keeping me on track!), nuts, cheese, and leftovers. (Make good use of those days you ARE home to cook ahead!)
3) Create an impromptu neighbor backyard picnic!
Call your neighbors (if you are friendly with them!) and see what they have that you can mix together with your food and eat together! I think it’s such a fun, unique way to get everyone together and make light of the kitchen work!
4) Use your crockpot!
I generally switch from the crockpot to the grill in the summer, however there are some days where I know we’ll be out so it’s just nice to have dinner done when I walk in!
I thought it might help to have some summer friendly ideas, so I compiled some recipes on pinterest for you so be sure to follow my boards!
Summertime is notorious for vacations! It gets us out of the monotony of life, gets us to a new location and we can “let loose” a little! However, vacations can do a doozy on someone’s health, not because of what they consumed (or didn’t) while on it, but because of the challenge of getting BACK INTO IT when they get home. If you go 7 days free willy on food and drinks, you can better believe that that first day back will be rough. And so will the second, and third.
Now, for some of you, it’s a worthy trade-off. You are experienced at this and for you, eating like this ENHANCES your life. But for others, it may be a bomb waiting to go off! So what are we supposed to do?
Last year, my family went to Disney World. We got the meal pass and I had very little time to workout. Of course I walked all over the parks, but no official heart-pumping exercise. I went into the trip knowing this and had to make my mind up before. What was I going to do? Allow this trip to be a full splurge, or try to find some middle ground. I chose the last option and you can read all about it here! I give you all my best tips for vacation eating!
And if you are looking for some great “clean eating” snacks while you travel, check out this post!
Whew! What a lengthy blog post! Like I always say, eating is the hardest piece to the health puzzle for most people, especially busy mamas. There are so many ways around to what works for a sustainable, life-long plan! What other summer tips do you have that you could add to this? I would LOVE to hear anything you have, or if I missed a challenge, please let me know and I’ll do my best to answer it with my best tip!