Kick Off to a Healthy Summer
by Melissa Kaczmarczyk, PhD, MPH
January may be long gone, but many consumers are still making resolutions as summer kicks off. Even as a nutrition professional, swapping out sweaters for short-sleeves gives me a little shot in the arm to make changes to be healthier. Many consumers find themselves in the same position this time of year and are looking to cut back on sugar, drop weight or overall find a better balance to their diet.
The desire for a quick fix piques interest in fad diets, but it also drives many people to seek the advice of an expert. As nutrition professionals, we know “quick fixes” are rarely as easy or as promising as they seem. But just because someone reached out looking for a quick fix doesn’t mean you can’t help them establish healthy, balanced long-term solutions and smart ways to cut sugar. In fact, it may be easier for people to make positive changes during summer months. Here are a few reasons why.
Physiological and Emotional Aspects
- Consumers may eat less. There is a reason lighter items are on restaurant menus in warmer weather and heavy “comfort foods” are harder to find. When you’re hot, overeating is even less comfortable. While more research is needed in this area, heat may suppress appetite altogether, as seen in one small pilot study where active males showed decreased appetite after working out in hotter temperatures.
- Good weather encourages more activity. As the weather turns around, suddenly we’re seeing runners and bikers everywhere! According to polls by Gallup, Americans tend to be seasonal exercisers, with more activity in the spring and summer. Also, research has shown people who exercise outside – at least sometimes – are more active than those who rely solely on indoor options.
- The mental factor. Many people suffer from seasonal depression, which may be associated with lethargy or binge eating. This all changes when it gets warmer and the days get longer. Whether opting for short-sleeves or a bathing suit, consumers are showing more skin and becoming more aware of how their bodies look, which motivates them to change habits.
Intersection of On-Trend and In-Season
A couple of significant consumer trends right now are plant-based foods and reducing sugar. Take advantage of these during summer to encourage produce – it’s tastier and more likely to be on sale! – and whole grain salads. Offer consumers ways to cut sugar without sacrificing great taste, such as Trop50®, which offers the great taste of orange juice with 50% less sugar and calories. Whether you’re setting up a cooking demo, giving a store tour, or counseling one-on-one, here are a few of our favorite tips:
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Infused waters or lower-calories drinks like Trop50 are the perfect way to enjoy flavor without all of the sugar or calories.
- Breakfast bowls. Smoothie bowls are a great way to add in fruit. Trop50, frozen pineapple, ginger and turmeric make a great smoothie bowl base that isn’t too sweet. Savory oatmeal provides the perfect canvas for summer veggies like baby greens, scallions, tomatoes and even squash.
- Grain bowls. Grain-based salads can be made ahead of time and pulled out of the fridge all week for easy meals. In addition to quinoa and brown rice, consider whole wheat pasta, farro, freekeh and even steelcut oats for great grain bowls. This article from Greatist provides flavor combinations to get you thinking.
- Chilled soups. Try a new take on gazpacho, like this recipe from Bon Appetit that uses yellow tomatoes and orange juice (substitute Trop50 orange to reduce the sugar content!), to hydrate and incorporate more produce.
- Alternative desserts. Help satisfy the sweet tooth using natural sugars. Think: grilled stone fruits or watermelon; “nice” cream topped with berries, or blended with nut butters or cocoa; homemade popsicles made with fruit or Trop50 and greek yogurt.
For additional resources and information, including recipes and a meal plan to help consumers be their healthiest selves this summer, contact Melissa.Kaczmarczyk@pepsico.com.