Watch What You Eat and Stay Healthy in the Heat

Making smart choices during the summer months can improve your family's health in the long run.

Making smart choices during the summer months can improve your family's health in the long run.

Summertime is here and as you throw your towel, sunscreen and other poolside essentials in a bag, think twice before packing unhealthy snacks. Nora Limas, M.S., R.D., Texas Tech Physicians Internal Medicine, said choosing your poolside snacks and activities can keep you and your family healthier this summer.

Go natural. Snack on fruits and vegetables with high water contents and are in season like cantaloupe, watermelon, oranges, grapes, apples, pears, pineapples, celery and cucumbers. All provide vitamins and minerals your body needs.

Try to mix fruit to make a healthy fruit salad and make sure to keep it cold in a cooler with ice.

“Try to pack snacks that are 100 calories or less,” Limas said. “Read the nutrition label to get serving size information and calories. Separating snacks into small plastic bags helps with portion control so you won’t be as tempted to eat the whole thing.”

Convenient, non-perishable snacks include granola or cereal bars that provide fiber, a handful of nuts or 100-calorie popcorn snack bags. Trail mixes in moderation are fine, although Limas said they tend to be high in calories because of the nuts, dried fruit and sugar.

Don’t forget your water. Even when you are in the pool, you can get dehydrated. Avoid putting additives that may contain too much sugar into your water. Instead, adding slices of lemon, lime, oranges and cucumbers can give you flavor without calories.

“Be aware of your thirst and drink fluids often throughout the day,” Limas said. “Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.”

Limas warns that flavored sports drinks are more suitable for athletes engaged in high-intensity exercise that last longer than one hour. Sports drinks can be loaded with sugar and calories, which can interfere with weight loss. A zero-calorie sports drink is a better choice.

Stay active. While sitting by the pool is relaxing, Limas said get up and move. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association all recommend 150 minutes per week or 30 minutes, five times a week of physical activity.

“Exercise doesn’t have to be at the gym,” Limas said. “Walking 10 minutes, three times a day, five times a week is also acceptable because it will give you the needed 150 minutes. Being at the pool provides a great exercise arena to move and get physical activity.”

Limas said if you are new to an exercise program, start small. Begin with 10 minutes, three times a day.

“With the hot sun and increased time in shorts and swim wear, this season is a perfect time to get or stay healthy,” Limas said. “Regular physical activity helps improve your overall health and fitness and reduces your risk for many chronic diseases. As you enjoy your summer, remember little things add up and small changes can help in the long run.”

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