Many of us have worked hard since the new year on getting a bikini body ready for the great reveal in the summer months. We watch our carb and sodium intake, we don’t binge in front of the TV, we don’t eat late at night, we are mindful with our portion sizes, we are careful with our alcohol consumption, and we exercise regularly.
We feel and look great, and then summer hits. It becomes too hot to exercise so we fall off the exercise wagon. It is the social BBQ season so we indulge in those ribs, high sugar BBQ sauce, potato and pasta salads, chips, high calorie picnic food, ice cream on a hot day, and of course – more beer and other alcohol. We go to more family gatherings and weddings, participating in the buffet by piling our plates with the “free” food and delectable deserts. We go on vacation and pack a lot of food that isn’t particularly nutritious (snacks, quick food, and treats like marshmallows) – food we wouldn’t necessarily eat during the rest of the year. During our vacations we often justify our unhealthy food and beverage choices by stating that we are “On vacation and can eat and drink whatever we want…” We eat out more at restaurants because we don’t want to fire up the stove. Also, we are more likely to eat later in the day (less time for metabolism) before our fasting overnight. Eating late is a big factor in weight gain.
For these reasons, many of us are more likely to gain weight in the summer months. This phenomenon occurs for children too, as they consume more high sugar beverages, ice cream, freezies, and high sodium snacks like chips and dip during the hot lazy days, and less likely to exercise as much as they did during the school year (no gym class).
Rather than refraining from any junk food consumption during the summer, as it is unrealistic to even suggest, if we can be more aware of our choices and monitor the amounts we consume – we can use discretion and self discipline in certain situations. I just attended a family wedding and using mindful principles, I didn’t over-pile my plate with buffet food, and only had one small desert. I still finished my meal feeling totally satiated and satisfied. I also drank lower calorie beverages all evening and more water. I am sure I packed in more calories than I danced off, but I felt better about not overindulging in everything.
Not only do we gain weight during the summer, but we often exacerbate inflammatory conditions like arthritis and digestive issues because we consume more inflammation causing foods like sugar and night shade veggies (peppers, tomatoes and potato salad). Pain in our body is its way of saying ‘no’ so when we have an inflammatory attack, we should consider what we have been eating lately if we have become sore.
Awareness is key in making any change to our habits. Being conscious of our choices and their consequences is a mindful way to take care of our bodies in the summer months. To your healthy summertime enjoyment.
Claire Nielsen is a health coach, author, public speaker and founder of www.elixirforlife.ca. The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional health and medical advice. Please consult a doctor or healthcare provider if you're seeking medical advice, diagnoses and/or treatment.