While we tend to associate seasonal weight gain with cold winter months, when hearty seasonal comfort foods hit the table and frigid temperatures compel you stay inside on the couch, summer is an oft-neglected season of weight gain.
Interestingly, nutritional needs in summer aren’t terribly different than nutritional needs in other seasons, save for increased hydration needs thanks to high temperatures and humidity.
With every season comes new challenges in nutrition: while fall and winter bring Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, the parade of road trips, vacations, barbecues, and family gatherings in spring and summer can be just as challenging to navigate.
Below, we’ve broken down a few common summer pitfalls to help you beat the burden of extra pounds before sweater weather hits.
1. It’s hot, hot, hot!
Rather than letting scorching temperatures force you inside to sit on the couch, head to the pool or the air conditioned gym for some exercise. Sitting on the couch isn’t just about sedentary behavior: it also tends to create boredom, anxiety, or symptoms of depression that can compel you to eat even when you’re not truly hungry. Keep moving through the summer months!
2. Unhealthy Hydration
When temps climb high, it’s only natural to want to cool off with cold beverages and frosty treats. Caloric beverages are a huge driver of weight gain, as they do little to promote satiety, with a large Caloric cost.
Replace any and all Caloric beverages with zero Calorie alternatives: a plain iced coffee rather than an iced latte, a zero Calorie electrolyte vs a sports drink, and sparkling water rather than soda. As little as 100 extra Calories per day in beverages can amount to an extra 4 lbs in the summer period.
3. Summer Gatherings
Summer barbecues and festivities typically aren’t hotspots for healthy foods. To keep Calories in check, bring a veggie tray or fruit salad to potluck style events to round out the unhealthy food and give you something to fill up your plate.
4. Summer Break
When the kids are home, nutrition often takes a backseat to attempts to keep the kids entertained. And that may mean trips to the ice cream shop, movie theater, or other locales with high-Calorie offerings.
Even if you’re not consciously eating extra treats, be conscious of what you keep in your home: studies have shown that kids tend to gain more weight in the summer than any time of year, with long, unscheduled hours at home giving way to unnecessary snacking. Oftentimes, this behavior becomes mirrored by parents, with the family gaining weight as a unit.
5. Road Trips and Vacations
Summer is prime time for road trips and family vacations. With the kids out of school and the beautiful outdoors beckoning, many families make their way to the beach, national parks, or other fun and exotic destinations for fun in the sun.
Unfortunately, most vacations don’t place a high priority on healthy eating, with pounds piling on even during relatively short getaways. Remember that you can undo a lot of positive progress in a short period of time, so optimize your nutrition while you’re away on vacay by limiting Caloric beverages (yes, even alcohol), and sticking to one treat meal each day.