The nutrition mistakes to avoid this summer

During the warmer summer months, stodgy, heavy foods are often replaced with lighter salads, and watery, colourful fruits and vegetables. After all, a hot meaty stew might not seem so tempting on a humid summer’s eve!

Plus, research[1] has also suggested that during the winter months, we are more likely to overeat, as our body’s natural urge is to maintain body fat when it’s cold.

Whilst this summer ‘diet’ may initially appear to be healthier than its wintery counterpart, there are a few nutrition mistakes you may be making this summer, which may in fact not be so healthy.

Here, Eat Natural’s Nutritionist Ashly Volkert gives her verdict on the nutrition mistakes to avoid this summer. Keen to know what a nutritionist eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Click here. 

Skipping breakfast

Waking up hot and flustered from a warm night’s sleep can mean that eating a meal is the last thing you feel like doing. Research does in fact suggest how heat impacts appetite, causing us to eat less[2].

However, the first meal of the day is ‘very important’ according to Ashly, who adds that we may go 10 to 12 hours overnight without food, leaving energy reserves low.

“Your body and brain now need fuel and breakfast keeps us going until lunchtime. Plus, breakfast is the first opportunity to provide nutrition to our body and provide it with important vitamins, minerals, and fibre.”

Plus, Ashly explains that breakfast provides us with the energy needed to concentrate on the day ahead and helps us to stay focused whilst also preventing low blood sugar, which can lead to irritability, hunger, and fatigue.

Only eating fruit for breakfast

So now we’ve established why breakfast is important, you might be wondering what’s best to eat first thing? Although fruits are of course filled with goodness, eaten alone, they won’t provide the body with all the nutrients it needs to stay energised.

“A satisfying breakfast that ticks all the nutritional boxes and keeps us going until lunch should aim to include a combination of foods including grains, protein, dairy, and fruits/vegetables.”

In fact, there are several stress-free ways to get more protein.

Ashy adds: “Fruit provides many vitamins and minerals, but it is also important to include protein at breakfast as this helps us to feel a bit fuller and can be quick and easy to include and fibre as this is an important part of cardiovascular and gut health.”

Why not try Greek yoghurt with fruit and Eat Natural granola? Or eggs on wholemeal toast with avocado?

Filling up on juice

There’s something seriously refreshing about a freshly squeezed juice on a warm summer’s day, plus, 150ml of juice counts as one of your five-a-day[3].

“However, more than this provides extra energy without additional nutritional benefits. The sugars in fruit and vegetables are realised when they are juiced or blended making them “free sugars”,” says Ashly.

These sugars are those that are added to foods, too much of which can cause weight gain and tooth decay[4].

“As per the above, the fewer daily meals you have, the less likely you are to have the right balance of nutrients within your diet,” adds Ashly.

Not drinking enough water

During summer, it’s been proven that our water intake and water loss is higher than it is in winter[5]. So it’s important to stay on top of our fluid intake to avoid it dropping. Staying hydrated is vital for so many bodily functions, as well as improved mood, cognition and sleep[6].

The UK’s Eatwell guide says that we should drink 6 to 8 cups or glasses of fluid a day with water, lower fat milk and sugar free drinks including tea and coffee all counting towards our daily fluid intake[7].

“Keep a bottle of water close by to top up fluid levels regularly and keep thirst away especially in the hot weather,” says Ashly.

Concerned that you might be dehydrated? A good rule of thumb is to assess your urine colour. Dark yellow urine is an indicator of dehydration whilst lighter or clearer urine shows that you’re consuming enough fluid[8].

Eating burnt BBQ meat

Eating a BBQ al fresco is popular during summer when it’s warm enough to eat outside! However, it’s important to cook food -particularly meat -correctly.

“Barbecuing foods at very high temperatures until they’re blackened and burnt can produce chemicals and potential carcinogens that are thought to be harmful to health. So be mindful of cooking your food, but don’t overdo it,” warns Ashly.

There are a few ways to minimise your exposure to these chemicals produced from the barbeque.

The National Cancer Institute recommends using a microwave oven to cook meat prior to placing it on a BBQ, as well as continually turning meat over when it’s placed on a high heat source[9].

Ashly adds that the meat itself cooked on a BBQ isn’t always the healthiest choice.

“Although sausages and burgers are popular options on the BBQ, they can also be high in salt and saturated fat. Burgers can be healthier as well as tasty if you make them from scratch with lean quality mince. Leaner cuts of meat, vegetables (healthy veggie kebabs)  and fish can be cooked just as easily and quickly.”