Healthy eating in the summer

As the temperature rises so does our excitement over the beach, pool parties, picnics and barbecues. Having a summer holiday without getting sick, sunburned or gaining an excessive amount of weight is possible by following some important strategies:

Taking healthy snacks to the beach:
Veggies: cherry tomatoes, celery or cucumber sticks, or peeled carrots. They contain fibre, minerals, are rich in vitamins and can be a refreshing crunchy snack. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene which gives extra protection from sunburn.
In-season summer fruits are everyone’s favourite. Peeled or whole they are a smart option for a healthy beach snack.

Due to their high liquid content watermelons help to keep you hydrated, your memory sharp and your mood stable. They also help to keep the body cool (due to sweating) during the hot summer months. This delicious fruit is also rich in fibre and lycopene for skin protection.

Red berries contain antioxidants which help to protect the skin and keep it looking young: raspberries are a great source of fibre, help lower cholesterol and prevent weight gain; blueberries have antioxidants that help ward off muscle fatigue by mopping up the additional free radicals that muscles produce during exercise; a cup of strawberries contains approximately 3 grams of fibre and 50 calories, and provides the necessary daily recommendation of vitamin C.

Fruit with pips such as peaches, plums, apricots, cherries, grapes and loquats, contain an abundance of important nutrients which help to prevent disease and are very practical to take to the beach.

For a better control of your blood sugar level and appetite combine fruit with a corn or rice wafer.

Low-fat dairy products are a good low-calorie source of protein, calcium and phosphorus – milk, cheese, liquid yoghurts or yoghurts with 1-2 teaspoons of oats or seeds (chia, flax, sesame) will help control your appetite during the day.

For lunch there are also some healthy options:
▪ Wraps with lettuce, a slice of tomato, mozzarella cheese and smoked salmon with pesto sauce (substitute salmon with boiled egg slices, shredded grilled chicken or tuna fish);
▪ A fresh salad with pulses (peas, beans or chickpeas) or pasta and your favourite veggies (e.g. tomato, cucumber, onion, rocket, corn, beetroot). For protein add crab sticks, boiled egg, chopped turkey or shrimps. Chopped fruit such as melon, strawberries and pineapple can also be added;
▪ Traditional sandwiches: prefer healthy options with whole-wheat bread or mixed corn bread with seeds – add lettuce, fresh tomato and 1-2 slices of cheese or poultry ham, or just spread it with avocado and add fresh cheese sprinkled with oregano.

Safety rules
Keep hydrated: your body’s water content is 70-75%. When exposed to high summer temperatures this percentage can easily drop due to body fluid losses (sweating). Water is the solvent for important biochemical reactions, essential in maintaining blood circulation and a normal body temperature. A balance must be kept between the daily intake of water and water loss, thus maintaining the necessary percentage of water in the body and avoiding dehydration.
1. Never wait until you are thirsty to drink water;
2. Check the colour of your urine – it should be pale yellow and not dark yellow, smelly or cloudy;
3. When exercising increase the quantity of water you normally drink;
4. Avoid drinking excessive quantities of alcohol (extremely dehydrating);
5. Drink at least 2 litres of water a day; include tea, fruit or vegetable juices, milkshakes/smoothies, soups or aromatic waters (add rosemary to your cold herbal tea).

Food safety rules are also important. Food-borne illness may occur due to high summer temperatures:
1. Wash hands before preparing food and after handling raw meats;
2. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of cooked food (e.g.: meat) – at least 74°C. Once cooked, food must be kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to leave for the beach;
3. Choose vegetables and fruits that are intact and wash them under running water, even when you are going to peel them;
4. Perishable food (dairy, meat, fish, shrimps, egg sandwiches or salads) should be packed in a thermal bag with ice packs, keeping the lowest temperature possible. Perishable food should not be eaten at the end of the day on the beach. The longer this type of food is exposed to high temperature the bigger the risk of food-borne illness.

Enjoy the sun and keep healthy!

|| Some healthy summer recipes

Watermelon-mint cooler (serves 4)

4 cups seedless watermelon chunks
1½ cups lemonade made from freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup fresh mint

Mix all ingredients in a blender.
Serve with ice cubes.

Quinoa salad + vegetables (serves 6)

1 cup quinoa
1 chopped broccoli head
1 large grated carrot
1 grated beetroot
1 handful fresh chopped parsley
1 handful fresh chopped coriander
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Cook the quinoa and the broccoli separately and let cool. In a big bowl add all ingredients.
Season with salt and vinaigrette sauce.

By Marina Augusto Estevão
|| [email protected]

Marina Augusto Estevão is a dietician at the Hospital Particular do Algarve Group