Grilled veggies

Three Ideas for a Healthier Summer

Summer—from hot days to breezy nights—embodies health, with gardens full of fresh produce, inviting waters (oceans, rivers, lakes), and the extra hours of daylight in which to play. Yet as summer enables so much health potential, it can enable some risk. Read up to make sure you don’t make these health mistakes this summer.

1. Grill This, Not That: Nothing is more symbolic of summer than the grill. The taste, the look and the smell of grilled foods have tremendous crowd appeal—but careful, some of that delicious smell and taste could be a health hazard. Not all foods should be grilled. Grilling fatty animal proteins (especially when grill equals “char” or “blacken”) creates carcinogenic (cancer-causing) smoke as well as carcinogenic compounds in the meat. The good news is this doesn’t happen with vegetables, and also is less likely with leaner animal proteins. But you can still enjoy those fattier meats and poultry if you marinate them (in turmeric, ginger, citrus especially), as well as precook them inside without oil and then “finish” them outside on the grill. It’s still best to avoid charring or blackening the meat on the grill.

2. The FRESHEST Can Actually Be Frozen. In my Qualitarian opinion, it’s the cleanest and the most nutrient dense that’s important, not the temperature at which fruit is stored. If organic fruits aren’t available at your farmers’ market or in the produce section of your store, head to the freezer section. Frozen organic fruit is a great, readily available option. Have you ever bought the perfect container of berries only to get it home and notice there’s white mold on half the berries? Not so with frozen. Frozen is typically less expensive and as fresh as, if not fresher than, “fresh,” since it’s frozen at the moment it’s picked—as opposed to fresh, which is handled, packaged and shipped (unless local) at non-frozen temperatures. So enjoy your fruit this summer, but choose the best-quality fruits, which means lowest pesticide residue and delicious taste.

3. Don’t Keep SUMMER HOURS: During the summer, the sun stays out longer, and that means more time to play outside or get some extra projects done inside while the kids play outside. Enjoy it, but note that longer summer sun can often mean eating and staying up later—both of which quickly become health negatives impacting digestion, sleep and total body recovery. Eating right before bed means the body will need to work, to digest, when it should be resting and repairing. Fewer hours of sleep overall contributes to so many things, including poor energy and weight gain. So to prevent this summer health mistake, try eating earlier and then heading back outside to play, and also setting and keeping regular bedtimes, even if it means using blackout curtains to make it seem like night even when Mother Nature hasn’t quite turned in for her night.