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  • Kellie Blake RDN, LD, IFNCP, CMHIMP

A Dietitian's Top Tips for Staying on Track this Summer

Reversing my autoimmune disease has meant addressing many lifestyle factors, nutrition being one. I have chosen to avoid foods with shady ingredients, but if I'm honest, I miss the crunch! There's nothing like a crunchy snack to hit the spot, especially when you're in the car traveling as many of us are in the summer time. There's no shortage of crunchy snacks out there, but the questionable ingredients found in most of them just don't fit into my lifestyle. Enter Simple Mills! I have been able to incorporate several of their products, including the almond flour crackers, into my routine because they use real ingredients that my body can tolerate well.

Doesn't summer seem to be a more challenging time to stay on a healthy track? There are lots of distractions for me because we travel a lot and spend more time away from home than usual. Maybe you travel a lot this time of year too, or have kids involved in more outdoor activities or camps, or you're spending more time with family and not eating at home as much. Whatever the distraction, try not to give up on your healthy routine. Use some of the tips below to keep you on track and feeling great even with the craziest summer schedule:

  • 1. Plan Ahead: This is really the number one obstacle to overcome when eating away from home. It hasn't happened much to me, but the times I'm not prepared and just have to rely on whatever's available are the times my symptoms start to creep back in. But, when I'm prepared I'm less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks or spend extra money on meals out. Convenience foods and restaurant meals can leave you feeling foggy, bloated, overstuffed, and unsatisfied.

  • Keep healthy snacks on hand. See the list below for ideas of both make ahead and prepackaged options. My go-tos are nut butter, apples, bananas, homemade trail mix, nuts (with no unhealthy oils, of course), hummus with vegetables, and homemade energy bites or bars.

  • If possible, pack a lunch box or cooler filled with mini-meals and snacks you can nosh on while you're out and about, traveling, or at the beach.

  • Have a few easy-to-prepare meals in mind that you can throw together in a flash. When you do have time to cook, this will make mealtime a breeze. Think DIY veggie pizza, tacos, spaghetti squash and meatballs. Entree salads with grilled chicken or beans and a simple olive oil dressing are usually an easy way to pack in nutrients, and you can use leftover salad ingredients to add to other dishes. I also make up healthy salad options like this bean and broccoli salad. I make large portions when I cook, so I can package leftovers up for lunch or dinner the next day, or as options for when we travel. It cuts down on kitchen time and you're sure to have a healthy option.

  • Look at your week ahead. Which days will be busiest? How can you incorporate healthy food and activity into these days?

Take a few moments to make a menu for the week, go to the grocery store and have the items you need to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle on hand and ready to go.

2. Pack Healthy Snacks: When you’re busy and on the go, it’s possible you may not know the next time you'll be able to eat a meal. Instead of skipping lunch, leave the house prepared with healthy snacks. Pack easily portable foods that travel well for the car, plane, or in your purse.

Packing healthy options will leave you feeling your best and will keep you satisfied for longer. It's also empowering when you feel prepared and don't feel like you're left to eat whatever's available. Consider including a source of protein, fiber, or fat for a more satisfying snack.

Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers are made with just whole food ingredients, nothing artificial. These crackers are powered with a nut and seed flour blend as the base and are a good source of fat, fiber, and protein. Depending on the flavor, these crackers offer 8-9 grams of healthy fat, 3-4 grams of protein, and 2 grams of filling dietary fiber. I recommend the Fine Ground Sea Salt Almond Flour Crackers! They're such an awesome crunchy snack, pair with some veggies and nut butter and you've got an entire meal that's easy for travel. They have the option for individual snack packs, but you can also purchase the larger box and portion them out yourself into reusable bags/containers.

3. Choose Quality Ingredients: Many prepared foods can be high in sugar, salt, and processed ingredients, but it's not always realistic to prepare every meal from scratch. When choosing packaged foods be sure to check the ingredient list!

  1. Look for:

  1. Simple, whole food ingredients that you can pronounce

  1. Products with nutrient-dense fats like coconut, olive, or avocado oil

  1. At least 2 grams of fiber

  1. Sugar content-- the less sugar, the better!

No artificial sweeteners or hydrogenated oils

4. Hydrate: Traveling, especially by plane, or being out and about in the summer heat, can leave you feeling dehydrated.

Fill a reusable water bottle and bring it with you whether you are on vacation or running errands. Staying hydrated can keep your skin soft and healthy, your energy up, keep headaches at bay, and help you feel your best.

5. Don’t forget to move: By incorporating healthy habits into your vacation or busy summer schedule you won't feel like you need a total reset once Labor Day arrives.

Squeeze a little movement into your day whenever you can. It may look a little different than your typical routine and that’s okay! Go for a jog around the block, take a walk outside, or sneak in a few sets of lunges and crunches in your hotel room. I always travel with my yoga mat, running shoes, and I keep 'no equipment necessary' workout routines on my phone to use when I don't have the option of a gym nearby. And, let's face it, it's always more fun to train outdoors. So, enjoy the sunshine and longer days by getting outside! Choose fun activities with friends and family that incorporate movement in your day - try kayaking, swimming, stand up paddle boarding, biking, or hiking.

How do you stay healthy while on the go or on vacation?

Healthy Snacks to Eat On The Go:

  • Nut Butter Snack Packs Nut and seed butters make a great on the go snack. Pair it with fruit (peaches or apples), veggies (carrots), and Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers. Check out the recipe here.

  • Homemade Muffins Muffins don’t require refrigeration and can offer a good source of filling fiber. Carbohydrates provide a quick source of energy and fiber helps the energy last. Try these Paleo Morning Glory Muffins. Prep a big batch ahead of time and store in the freezer. You can take one or two with you during the day and they will defrost naturally in the warm summer air.

  • Fresh Fruits and Veggies Many fresh fruits and veggies don’t require refrigeration. Cherry tomatoes taste great this time of year. Baby carrots, sliced peppers, and even a container of salad can travel well. Be sure to pack the dressing on the side, or just take small bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to use for the dressing.

  • Homemade Bars or Energy Bites This recipe for Blueberry Banana Breakfast bars uses Simple Mills Banana Muffin mix and comes together in just 30 minutes. It’s the perfect meal prep recipe to make your on the go breakfast a breeze!

Taking a few minutes to blend up an awesome green smoothie can really set the tone for your day. You can consume valuable nutrients to give you energy for packed summer days and they're so refreshing too!

It may seem like a hectic time of year, but planning can really help keep you on track with your health goals. Try some of the options above and tag us @nutrisensenutrition on IG and let us see your creations! Or, let us know what some of your favorite go to healthy snacks are! Thanks to Simple Mills for sending me some awesome samples in exchange for my honest dietitian opinion.

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