Dr. Leia Answers Question on Summer Diets

Question for Dr. Leia: “Summer time has always been a difficult time for me when it comes to my diet. I need to find a good summer diet that is free from chips, burgers, and the usual picnic foods. Can you give some good summer diet tips, or point me to foods that I could take on picnics and outings that would help me stay on track and still feel included at outings? I love summer, but by the end I always gain 5 or 10 pounds. I have kids, so they make it really hard, with roasting marshmallows by the campfire, and wanting to eat junk all the time.” ~ Micky.

Dr. Leia’s Answer: Dear Micky, Summertime always presents a challenge for healthy eating. However, it is possible to still have fun at outings and picnics without compromising your diet. Since the weather is warm, it is a wonderful time to eat raw vegetables and fruit which always seem to help keep the body’s temperature down during those hot humid summer days.

  • Raw vegetables such as carrot and celery sticks, broccoli flowerettes, green and red peppers, cauliflower, string beans, tomatoes etc. make wonderful snacks and are simple and easy to pack for picnics and hikes.
  • Roasted corn on the cob is always a favorite at picnics too.
  • You might want to make your dips and sauces, tuna and egg salad sandwiches with non-fat or low-fat yogurt and spices in place of mayonnaise. Yogurt will not spoil with the heat as mayonnaise does.
  • Instead of rich sugar-laden desserts, pack some fresh fruit.
  • Healthy smoothies can be made using yogurt and fruit, combined with rice or whey protein powder, and almond or rice milk. Be creative and add lecithin granules to keep the smoothie from separating, and brewer’s yeast and carob powder to add vitamins and flavor.
  • Frozen fruit juice ice cubes can be used in place of the perennial summer
    favorites such as popsicles and ice cream. You might want to whip up some fruit juice and yogurt in the blender, and then freeze them. Voila, you now have healthy tasty yogurt pops!
  • In place of burgers, you might want to try grilling fish or chicken breasts and not eat the skin, or try one of the many brands of veggie burgers available in the freezer section of the grocery stores.
  • Chips are addictive, so raw veggies can be substituted or you might opt for baked chips or pretzels and rice cakes which tend to be a little bit healthier than chips.
  • Stay away from soda pop and soft drinks, and opt for water with a touch of lemon or lime, or iced herbal or green tea with lemon.

Be creative and enjoy the summer months but remember that snack foods are always empty calories and really not worth the extra pounds which they produce. Limit the salt, sugar,
and fat intake and stay with fresh and raw vegetables whenever possible.

By Dr. Leia Melead