Balanced diet and weight in summer

Why weight tends to increase in summer and how to avoid it. Or how to create sustainable healthy eating habits.

What is a balanced diet

If you get all the nutrients your body needs with food, and you take them not too much and not too little, but just as much as you need, you eat in a balanced way.

Why is this important?

If something is missing, there are problems with health and beauty, which are first manifested by constant fatigue, insomnia, mood swings... problems with the health of nails, hair, and skin.  

If there is too much of something, there are options. Some nutrients do not cause problems, others do.

Too many carbs, fat and salt are definitely a problem, but if you take in a little more vitamins - most likely there will be no consequences.

A balanced diet is the cornerstone of our health, well-being, and appearance, and is especially important in the summer.

Why?

Because we tend to gain more weight in summer than in winter. Even children tend to gain more weight in the summer months, not during the fall or winter months.

 

Why does weight increase during the summer?

There are many reasons:

  • Summer is the time for vacations and trips - the time when we relax and think much less about what and how much we eat;
  • In summer, we consume many more soft drinks and ice cream. Respectively – we take in much more sugar/"empty" calories;
  • Summer is the time for grilling and picnics. That is, we take in much more fat/calories;
  • Summer is the time for weddings, corporate, and various other events. And who can think of what to eat and drink while sitting, for example, at a richly laid wedding table -😊;
  • In summer, restaurants and cafes open open-air terraces, where it is so pleasant to sit after a "winter sleep", and - also to eat and drink something refreshing…
  • It tends to be hot in the summer. And in hot weather, we are less physically active;
  • In summer we usually sleep less and/or worse because the nights are short (exposure to daylight increases) and tend to be too hot to sleep comfortably. Lack of sleep increases cortisol (stress hormone) levels, which contribute to sugar cravings, bloating, and overall weight gain. Read more about the importance of sleep HERE;
  • Before the beach season, many people follow "Fast/Fad" diets, which are designed for rapid weight loss, but which often have the opposite effect in the long run, "damaging" the metabolism. Summer weight gain is often just a biological reaction to attempts to lose weight quickly in the spring;
 

How to learn to eat in a balanced way

In today's fast pace of life, it is not so easy to adhere to a healthy and balanced diet. This is easier said than done.

It takes knowledge and a real desire. The main problem is motivation because:

  • Ultra-processed food is so delicious! A couple of chips won't hurt...
  • The influence of a healthy and balanced diet on well-being and health does not manifest itself immediately. It takes several weeks, and in some cases even months, for you to notice that you feel better, that you have more energy, you sleep better, etc. Signs of improvement in general health are even harder to detect, because if you feel good - you just don't think about it, it's like the norm.
 

Accordingly, a healthy and balanced diet at first seems self-limiting and if there are no immediate and obvious results, the obvious question arises - Why do I need it? Why limit yourself if there is no result?

Because we want to achieve everything now - immediately and effortlessly - 😊

Unfortunately, this only happens in fairy tales and advertisements.

 

The first thing to understand is that processed foods contain many "hidden" ingredients. For example, when drinking a glass of lemonade, we usually don't even realize that we just drank one, two, or three... teaspoons of sugar and, accordingly, consumed about 39, 78, 117... Kcal (kilocalories).

We don't even notice it and often think that we eat healthy and balanced because our menu also includes vegetables, fruits, dairy products...

And we don't understand why we gain weight.

 

Therefore, the first thing you should do is start reading product labels to understand what you are really eating.

The next step is to understand which products pose the greatest risk of "overdosing" for you - mainly calories (sugar and fats) and salt.

Once you have identified the "enemy" - do not bring it home. Simply, so that there is no need to train willpower -😊.

 

But even after you have chosen healthy foods for yourself and have compiled (or ordered) a balanced menu, sticking to it every day is fraught with certain difficulties.

The good news is that no matter how difficult or even impossible it may seem, it is possible to eat a healthy and balanced diet. And you don't even have to give up your favorite foods.

There are many eating patterns and “tricks” that make healthy eating easier, and most of them are quite simple and easy to follow:

  • It is really difficult to immediately radically change your eating habits. Therefore, set small, measurable goals that will help you achieve the overall big goal. For example, I will eat vegetables in at least 2 meals every day, or I will drink at least 1.5 liters of water a day, etc.;
  • Keep a meal and exercise log. It is very useful to keep track of how much and what you eat because snacks are very often very high in calories;
  • Try to stick to your meals. This will help to limit the amount of calories taken during the day;
  • Eliminate processed, junk food from your diet. Choose fresh, raw foods and cook more yourself;
  • Try new dishes. Eating almost the same thing every day is not motivating. Look for new healthy recipes on the Internet, in cookbooks, or in magazines so that you don't get bored of eating healthy food. For instance, here you can find many delicious and healthy low-calorie recipes;
  • Your friends and family members are your best support. Appreciate it — tell them how much it means to you and they will continue to support you in the future;
  • Eat something every 2-3 hours. This will help to avoid sudden attacks of hunger. For example, when you come home from work, you will not eat everything that "comes to hand";
  • Keep healthy and nutritious foods "at hand". Preparation is the key to a healthy and balanced diet! Fresh vegetables and fruits, lean meat, dairy products, and whole grains help a lot to stay on the right track. Prepare some healthy ingredients for dishes so that they are always in the refrigerator and you can always quickly cook healthy food from them;
  • Don't keep "sinful" food at home that tempts you. That doesn't mean you have to give them up—just don't keep them handy. If you really want to, enjoy them outside the house, and if someone else brought them, put them on the "highest shelf" - out of sight, out of mind;
  • Always take a healthy snack with you when you leave the house for more than a couple of hours. Apples, bananas, carrots, fruit, nuts, and protein bars are easy to carry and will satisfy sudden hunger far better than unhealthy snacks and treats;
  • Eat and enjoy your favorite dishes but in moderation. A complete rejection of your favorite foods, as a rule, leads to a breakdown. Therefore, if you really want something very much - then eat and enjoy it;
  • When eating out, try to choose as few processed products as possible - this way you will at least know approximately what you are eating;
  • Don't let a single setback stop you from achieving your goal. If you stumble, don't blame yourself, just make sure that your next meal is balanced and healthy!
 

Set goals and monitor your progress towards them

Setting goals and self-monitoring is a simple and very effective way to motivate yourself and improve your results.

As you track your progress, remember that weight loss or gain is not the only checkpoint of your progress. For example, if you want to lose weight - circumferences are a much better indicator of progress than lost kilograms. You can read more about it HERE.

People choose a healthy diet for various reasons. For example, not to lose weight, but to improve physical or mental health.

Here are some questions that can help you assess your progress:

  • Do I feel full?
  • Do I like what I eat?
  • Could I keep eating like this forever?
  • Have I noticed any changes in my appearance?
  • Have I noticed any changes in my physical health?
  • Have I noticed any changes in my mental health?
  • How confident do I feel about my eating pattern/diet?
  • How many healthy choices did I make today?
 

Motivation is an interesting thing. It only works if we see the result of our efforts. That is why regular self-assessment of your progress is very important.

This does not mean that you should write down everything you eat and scrupulously count calories. The mirror and the feeling are the main criteria.

Weighing and other measurements should be done no more than once a week.

 

In conclusion

Giving up old habits and forming new ones is not an easy process, especially when it comes to foods that you have eaten all your life. That is why at first it is very difficult to make a balanced diet on your own.

In my weight loss challenges, I try to help participants understand the basics of a healthy and balanced diet, to show that a balanced diet can help solve both health problems and improve well-being.

And I am pleased that for many of them healthy eating habits become an integral part of their daily life, which is a guarantee that the lost weight will not return, well-being and general health will not deteriorate.

If you want to do everything yourself - remember that "the best" or "the healthiest", etc. diets are just words - no diet is suitable and cannot be suitable for everyone. Because we are all very different – each of us lives in unique circumstances, which are influenced by our genetics, health, work schedule, family, cultural traditions, and much more.

No diet can fully account for or accommodate so many individual factors.

Therefore, before you start a diet, think - will you be able to follow it for the rest of your life? If you can't, the effect will be temporary.

After all, the best and healthiest diet is the one that makes you feel the best - that provides your body with everything it needs, is pleasant/delicious, and that you will therefore be able to follow for an unlimited time.

 

Eat healthy, balanced, and delicious and be healthy!

 

Sources:

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Associations between seasonal variations in day length (photoperiod), sleep timing, sleep quality and mood

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Ultra-processed foods: what they are and how to identify them

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Consumption of ultra-processed foods and obesity in Canada

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Association of Home Food Availability with Prediabetes and Diabetes among Adults in the United States

College Students and Eating Habits

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Dietary protein and appetite sensations in individuals with overweight and obesity

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