Summer is here, and naturally, we are all loading our plates and bellies with fresh fruits, vegetables, and grilled goodies. It seems like a given that you would cut some calories and feel better than ever with all this healthy eating.
Fruits and vegetables hold a host of enriching vitamins, minerals, carbs, fiber, and other healthy nutrients. As per the World Health Organization (WHO)₁ and the USDA₂, you should eat 3-5 servings (cups) of fruits and veggies a day.
But not all fruits and vegetables are created the same. There are a few potential pitfalls. After all, the goal is NOT to gain weight and fat over the summer. Even though typically this time of year we are eating REALLY well, a few quick adjustments can be made to enhance your health further! Here are some recommendations:
1. If you are engaging in high endurance activity, a banana or orange can load up your lost muscle glucose quickly and keep you energized. Timing is everything when it comes to high glycemic foods. The perfect time is right after a long hard training session.
2. If you are chilling on the beach, berries will provide you with less sugar and plenty of phytonutrients and gut biome support.
3. Load up on your bright colored veggies, except for tubers. You can gorge yourself on most veggies. Be sure and watch that dip though! Try a fresh squeeze of lemon juice and a little sea salt to flavor which will also help provide some electrolytes to keep you hydrated!
4. Watch your baked potatoes, baked beans, and corn. These foods are great in small proportion if organically sourced. The toppings, (such as butter, sugar, and sour cream), can really add up on these summer foods so remember this rule of thumb: the SIZE of your thumb is actually the correct portion size for fats. Unless you run a half marathon, a half baked potato (as opposed to a full baked potato), and a plate full of salad might be a better option for the waistline.
5. Grilling is a staple of summertime cooking. Unfortunately, high heat and sugar-coated cooking is pretty bad for you. There is a plethora of scientific evidence and case studies that prove the link between BBQ and high heat cooking with renal damage, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. This type of cooking creates Advanced Glycation End-products (AGE’s) also known as Maillard reaction.₃ That said you can plug your ears and hum loudly or try and erase this knowledge from your brain in a state of denial, but ultimately, the best advice we can give is to LIMIT and or avoid high heat cooking. Once a week, tops. Another way to enjoy that BBQ flavor is with some low heat, high moisture cooking…think pulled pork here. Throw a roast in the slow cooker with your favorite BBQ sauce and enjoy!
3.Chao P, Hsu C, Yin M. Analysis of glycative products in sauces and sauce-treated foods. Food Chemistry. 2009;113(1):262-266. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2008.06.076.