Summer Nutrition Savvy: Lazy days don’t mean a lazy diet

By Gina Sunderland, MSc, RD posted in Healthy Eating

kebabWarm weather and sunshine find Canadians firing up their barbeques and migrating back to their neighbourhood ice cream shop. But isn’t summer the time when we should all be getting more active, eating healthier and working off some of those extra pounds of winter comfort foods? Don’t despair. Here are a few simple strategies to keep your nutritional health from taking a vacation.

Barbeque outside the box

Grilling is a great way to keep your healthy eating goals on track. Keep calories to a minimum by barbequing lean beef, skinless chicken or salmon. For healthier burgers try ground turkey, a portabella mushroom, or walk on the wild side with a bison burger. Give a mixed vegetable kebob a whirl or try slow roasting sweet potatoes in foil. With so many fantastic grilling options, limit high-fat hot dogs to kids’ parties or sports windups.

Summer is the time to indulge – in local produce

Enjoy as much local produce as possible. Fresh vegetables and fruits are loaded with a winning combination of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fibre. Fruits and vegetables also have the bonus of being low in fat and calories. Offer to bring a green salad, fruit salad or vegetable tray to gatherings to ensure healthy options are abundant when socializing.

Dealing with desserts? Create a treat budget

If every day includes gelati or an iced cappuccino, it all adds up. But it’s hard to pass up these truly summery treats. This is where a treat budget can help. Limit treats to two or three times per week. When choosing a “sweet fix”, try some lighter options: low-fat frozen yogurt, ice milk or sorbets. If a hot fudge sundae is irresistible, choose the smallest size or share this indulgence.

Long summer evenings are not a green light for grazing


Long daylight hours often set the stage for late night socializing, snacking and consuming high-calorie alcoholic beverages. Just one or two drinks an evening on the deck will add significant calories and unwanted pounds over the summer months. These calories quickly multiply, especially if paired with nachos, potato chips or nuts. Instead, enjoy a wine spritzer, de-alcoholised or light beer. Better yet, choose mineral water with lemon and limit the snacks.

Don’t forget your multivitamin

On vacation, eating schedules tend to become sporadic, compromising key nutrients. Often this results in summer colds or flu. A multivitamin is a proven immune boosting agent. Look for a product that contains extra antioxidants such as Centrum Forte.

Enjoy the great outdoors

There is nothing like a walk first thing in the morning, a dip in the pool or a bike ride through the park. Now is the time to maximize outdoor fitness and fun. You won’t have regrets when the autumn leaves start to fall.

Keep friendly with the food guide

For more information on eating healthy, download a free copy of “Eating well with Canada’s Food Guide” from Health Canada’s website or call 1-800 O-CANADA.


About the Author

Gina Sunderland is a registered dietitian and a specialist in nutrition education and assessment. Gina operates a private nutrition consulting practice at Action Physiotherapy & Wellness Clinic in Winnipeg and works as an oncology dietitian at CancerCare, Manitoba. Her experience and interests revolve around the nutrition management of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer treatment and prevention, healthy eating, sport nutrition, and gastrointestinal disorders. Gina holds a Master of Science degree in Applied Human Nutrition from the University of Guelph and a Bachelor of Human Ecology degree from the University of Manitoba. She is a member of Dietitians of Canada and the College of Dietitians of Manitoba. Gina has been a practicing registered dietitian for over 17 years.