When most of us think of summer foods, we think of low-calorie, lighter fare packed with less “bulk.” Heavier, comfort food dishes are put on hold until cooler temperatures take over. Now, if all of that is true, then explain this — why are so many of us still carrying around a belly bulge? You’re making all the right choices in terms of fitness. You’re eating tons of fruits and vegetables. The last time you dunked your head into a vat of lasagna was post-Valentine’s Day. So what’s with the bloat?
“I actually think summer is the trickiest time of year to keep it healthy,” warns Lauren Slayton, registered dietician and author of The Little Book of Thin: Foodtrainers Plan-It-to-Lose-It Solutions for Every Diet Dilemma. “First of all, many summery foods are sweet including fruit, corn, tomatoes, and rosé. So although summer is conducive to eating lighter foods, summer foods can be deceptive.”
Slayton, who regularly sees clients via her Foodtrainers nutrition services, says summer actually makes a lot of her clients “nervous.” Aside from all the additional sugar in summer foods, there’s also more daylight and that endless weekend vibe that comes with warmer months which can trick you into consuming more of those “summer foods” than you realize.
So what can we do about it? We asked Lauren that very question and she recommended several simple tips that will help us deflate and feel great this summer. Here are her suggestions:
1. Consume Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Berries but in moderation
“My summer food trifecta would be zucchini, tomatoes, and berries. Zucchini is a great source of Vitamin C and B vitamins. Zucchini is also a low-calorie stand-in for “carby” foods,” says Slayton. “Instead of pasta or chips, you can use “zoodles” or zucchini chips. Tomatoes (not with mozzarella) have a component called lycopene. One of lycopene’s functions is to protect skin from the sun. And berries really top the fruit hierarchy. They are loaded with fiber and fairly low in sugar which you can’t say for all the summer fruits.”
2. Add water-dense foods to your diet
“Cucumbers and melons are naturally watery foods. I’m also a fan of coconut water as it has potassium which is an electrolyte lost via sweat during warmer months . . . Additionally, we’re usually losing more water via perspiration and due to increased alcohol consumption, so hydration is even more important,” advises Slayton.
3. Stay hydrated
Think of it this way: when you haven’t had enough fluid, your body retains water to keep you from getting dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water flips that, helping you beat water retention. “It may seem counterintuitive but hydrate and include what we so scientifically call at Foodtrainers, ‘delicious de-bloaters’: lemon, asparagus, dandelion greens, and avocado in your diet,” says Slayton. Staying fueled on water also helps keep things moving! A non-constipated belly is a non-bloated belly.
Take note that there is a trick to staving off bloat by keeping hydrated. Make sure you’re watching your intake and hydrating regularly. “You need to consume water to lose water or de-bloat,” says Slayton “But erratic hydration can leave people feeling distended. It’s best to spread fluids out throughout the day versus chugging when you remember or feel thirsty. And finally, if you’re eating a salty, sugary diet, your body will hold on to more of the water you consume.”
Daily water intake guidelines vary. The most commonly-held guideline is most adults should consume a minimum of about half a gallon of water per day.