It’s that time of year again: when everywhere we go and everywhere we look, “summer ready” diets are taking over. Magazines are promoting their beach body cleanses and detoxes. Big diet companies, such as Weight Watchers, are offering free weight loss programs to teens during the summer months (I still can’t believe this is a thing). Everyone and their mom is talking about what diet they are going on or what foods they’re planning to eliminate in an effort to lose weight.
I’m not sure what type of world we live in – a world where dieting and having a “perfect” body and losing weight seem to trump actually enjoying ourselves and living our lives. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather enjoy my summer by spending time outside doing activities I love, eating ice cream cones, enjoying a beer on the patio…instead of counting calories, planning when I’m going to have my next meal replacement shake, or worrying about what I’m going to eliminate from my diet next.
Some people might say that the diet they are on is in an effort to get healthier. Okay, but there are SO MANY THINGS you can do to get healthier instead of go on a diet. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that shows most diets don’t work over the long-term. So why focus on something that makes you miserable, stressed and borderline malnourished rather than establish fulfilling healthy habits that you can keep up with forever? All while maintaining your happiness and sanity.
If you’ve still got your heart set on a diet and aren’t sure what to focus on instead, don’t fear! I put together a list of activities and habits for you to keep on your mind instead during the summer months. All of these involve a variety of different aspects of your health, from the foods you eat to proper hydration to stress relief. When you’re finished, leave a comment with one of these habits or activities that you want to work on this summer!
31 Non-Diet Health Habits to Focus On This Summer
Take a cooking class or buy a cookbook & try some new recipes! Making home-cooked meals is good for the soul.
Drink lots of water! Staying hydrated is important for keeping your energy levels up and it also keeps your skin healthy.
Go to an outdoor yoga class (there are many of these in the Minneapolis area!).
Try a farm-to-table restaurant in your area, which will support your local farmers and expose you to new seasonal foods.
Got probiotics? Fermented foods & beverages are a source of the probiotics (healthy bacteria) that keep your gut and immune system functioning properly. Some fermented foods to try include kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt with live active cultures and kefir.
Spend time in nature! Go for a walk outside, a hike in the woods or a bike ride on a scenic trail.
Work on stress management. A few strategies for this include meditation, deep breathing, yoga, talking to a friend or journaling.
Take time to stretch throughout the day, especially if you have a job that requires a lot of sitting.
Start a gratitude journaling practice. One way to do this is by writing out 3 things that you are grateful for every day.
Eat breakfast every day! This helps keep your blood sugar balanced so that you’re not feeling hungry and irritable all day long. Including breakfast in your day may also help with concentration, focus and productivity. Not sure what to eat for breakfast? Try a smoothie! Here are a few recipes to get you started: Layered Banana Cherry Smoothie, Purple & Yellow Smoothie , Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie.
Try shopping at a farmer’s market instead of the grocery store. This is a great way to support the local food movement, and provides some inspiration to include new veggies in your diet.
Practice mindful eating by eating meals away from your desk and other distractions. If possible, eat your lunch outside in the sunshine! This will leave you refreshed & motivated to take on the rest of your day.
Try a workout that you haven’t tried before. Some options include yoga sculpt, barre, rock-climbing or cycling. You never know what you might end up really enjoying.
Join a club you’ve been interested in, or invest your time in your favorite hobbies. My favorite hobbies: reading, writing, cooking, photography, exploring the food & coffee scene in the Twin Cities, and petting my dog (and other people’s dogs).
Consume a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from ALL the food groups. As often as possible, incorporate sources of carbs, fat and protein into all of your meals.
SLEEP. Sleeping is so incredibly important for your overall health. I have always struggled with my own sleep issues, but I’ve found that trying to go to bed at the same time every night can be super helpful.
Make time for your relationships. Set aside time every week to hang out with your friends and family (OUTSIDE of social media).
Make a point to try new foods, including vegetables and fruits, that you haven’t tried before on a regular basis.
Take a day or two off work, just to take the day off work. We all need days scheduled (besides the weekends) to do absolutely nothing.
Throw away your scale. Focus your health efforts on how you feel, not on a meaningless number.
Don’t forget to get a little sun every once in a while. It’s the best source of vitamin D, and may help improve your mood (make sure to put sunscreen on after your skin has been exposed to the sun for about 10-15 minutes, and don’t get burnt like I did when I was in the Dominican Republic last month!).
Make salads that incorporate lots of fresh fruit and in-season veggies, healthy fats and protein. There is nothing more refreshing than a summer salad when it’s hot out!
Don’t resist cravings or restrict foods that you love – you’ll likely overindulge later on. Allow yourself to have the snack, the dessert, the ice cream and move on.
Limit your alcohol intake. We all love to sip on beers and refreshing cocktails during the summer months. But overdoing the alcohol can have a negative impact on your energy levels, skin, metabolism, and digestion…to name a few. Instead of boozin’, sip on non-alcoholic beverages such as sparkling water, tea or kombucha.
Avoid hanging out with people who are obsessed with dieting and talking about weight. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. There are many other more productive and important things you could be talking or thinking about.
Read a book for pleasure.
Take a nap when you need one. Naps aren’t only for the kids!
Spend some time volunteering for an organization or a cause that you support, such as an animal shelter. Animal shelters often host outdoor events during the summer months, which can be a fun activity.
If you struggle to find the time to cook at home, invest in a healthy meal kit service such as Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. This eliminates the grocery shopping, some of the meal prep and the thinking (since you won’t have to worry about what you’re going to make for dinner!).
Go berry picking – this is such a fun summer activity. It gets you outside and you’ll get a dose of antioxidants in your diet with all the berries you’ll be eating.
Channel you inner green thumb and plant a garden. If you don’t have space for a garden, make a point to bring more plants into your home. Plants help to purify the air, and having them around may help reduce stress levels.