12 ways to adjust your daily health habits in summer

Summer daily health habits. (Getty Images)
There are small tweaks you can make to your daily habits for optimum health and happiness in summer. (Getty Images)

With summer finally here (please sun, be kind to us), switching up your daily nutrition and fitness habits might well be on your mind.

But this by no means you need to 'get fit for summer' or 'go on a diet' – instead, there are some small adjustments you can make to be more in tune with the season and maximise your overall health and happiness.

Here, Priya Tew, registered dietitian and nutrition professional and consultant for ZENB’s Gauge on Gluten research report, and Eloise Skinner, author, fitness instructor and psychotherapist share 12 simple ways to adapt your daily food and exercise habits at this time of the year.

girl eating mango
Check what foods are in season right now. (Getty Images)

"Seasonal foods in the summer months can bring a variety of different vegetables, grains, herbs and dressings. It is a chance to make delicious, colourful salads, instead of the limp lettuce and cucumber versions," says Tew.

"Adding more plant foods to your diet is a brilliant way to help your gut health. However, salads can also be where more gluten-containing foods can creep into your diet without you realising as gluten can be found in couscous, pasta, croutons and dressings. So, if you suspect you have a gluten intolerance or suffer from coeliac disease make sure to check salad dressings and choose gluten-free alternatives like quinoa and buckwheat and pasta made from 100% yellow peas."

A group of women spending the evening running out in the city together.
Try something new. (Getty Images)

"Summer is a great time for fitness activities that involve friends or community!," says Skinner. "We know that there are huge health benefits from working out with friends and connections (mental, emotional and physical benefits), so swap a solo gym session for a park run or group sports activity."

And if you've never done this before, you might thrive from trying something new.

Yoga mat, fitness and black man drinking water in nature for health and wellness outdoors. Zen chakra, pilates and male yogi drink liquid for hydration after exercising, workout or training exercise.
You can hydrate through both liquids and foods. (Getty Images)

This may sound simple, but it's all too easy to forget and have your concentration and energy levels compromised in warmer months.

"Try including high water content foods such as snacking on watermelon, peaches and oranges, adding cucumber and celery as a side and sipping on water flavoured with fruit or homemade iced tea," Tew recommends.

And it's even more important to stay on top of hydration when working out in the heat or spending time in the sun, which of course can increase how much we sweat. "We can do this by tracking our water intake throughout the day to make sure we get enough, and setting routines for ourselves that support good hydration (like drinking water when we wake up, for example)," says Skinner.

Overnight oatmeal with berries and nuts in a jar on a white background. Healthy breakfast concept.
It's not about reducing how much you eat, but switching up what you eat. (Getty Images)

Kick this off with breakfast. "Switch your breakfast from porridge to overnight oats with seasonal berries or try a homemade smoothie. Try adding in linseeds for protein and fibre to help keep your digestive system and you fuller through the morning," says Tew.

And throughout the day, you can make the most of refreshing ingredients, with meals that don't take long to prepare. "Perhaps a salmon fillet with salad and potatoes over a heavy casserole. Opt for simple meals that are quick to cook and balanced with lean proteins (fish, chicken, beans, tofu) with easy to prepare carbohydrates (rice, quinoa, couscous, potatoes, pasta) and a salad or roasted vegetables."

Tew says it's also wise to mix food types where possible. "Snacking on fruit or veg alone may not keep you satisfied. Combine protein or a whole grain fibre rich food with fruit to help keep you full between meals. For example, Greek yoghurt with fruit, apple with almonds, veggies with hummus, nuts with berries, grapes with cheese."

A beautiful mature black woman doing yoga.
Yes, we still need to warm up. (Getty Images)

"Even though we might feel 'warmed up' in the heat, it's still important to properly stretch before and after a workout (especially if we're working out outside)," says Skinner.

"Focused stretching, with good alignment, helps to prepare our muscles, circulatory system and respiratory function for exercise, and this remains crucial to avoid injury, even if we're physically hot from time in the sun."

Close-up of woman and son taking out ice pop from moulds in the kitchen. Mother and son preparing mis fruit ice cream on stick. Strawberries and oranges on table.
Make frozen lolly's out of fruit. (Getty Images)

Make use of the refreshing and nutritious summer foods at your fingertips.

"Whilst ice-cream and lollies are definitely something to enjoy, why not also enjoy frozen fruit or homemade banana 'ice cream'," Tew suggests. "Grapes, pineapple and small berries make a great frozen snack and bananas frozen in chunks can be whizzed up in the food processor to make a version of ice-cream."

Young Asian woman with shopping cart, carrying a reusable shopping bag, shopping for fresh organic fruits and vegetables in supermarket. Environmentally friendly concept. Zero waste and plastic free. Eco friendly shopping. Sustainable living lifestyle
You still need at least three meals a day in summer. (Getty Images)

"Whilst it can be tempting to skip meals, this really is not a good idea. Instead, eating smaller, more frequent meals can help keep your energy levels up, improve your mood and help keep your blood sugar levels more stable," says Tew.

The dietitian recommends aiming to still eat three meals and a couple of snacks a day and to listen to your hunger.

Close up shot of a woman eating a dish of fresh beef cobb salad with a soft boiled egg and coffee at a cafe table. Enjoying her healthy and nutritious lunch. Maintaining a healthy and well-balanced diet. The concept of healthy eating lifestyle
The right foods for you won't cause discomfort. (Getty Images)

Bloating is unwelcome at the best of times, but especially in warmer months.

"Eat away from distractions and take your time over meals. This helps your brain connect with your gut. Aim to stay calm and connected before and during meals as stress can make a huge difference," says Tew.

"If this is a recurrent problem it could be a symptom of a gluten intolerance – try switching to gluten free pastas, like ZENB’s yellow pea alternative, which could ease symptoms.

"If you suspect something more serious like coeliac disease, try Coeliac UK’s online self-assessment as you may be one of the 500,000 undiagnosed sufferers."

asian woman stretching in a park
The shade is your friend when exercising outside. (Getty Images)

Remember, as the days grow hotter, avoid working out in peak times of direct sunlight and heat.

"Not only is it much less pleasant to do a workout then, but it also runs the risk of heat exhaustion, sunburn, dehydration or heat stroke. Swap a midday workout for an early evening or morning workout instead," advises Skinner.

Loving senior couple sitting on a park bench having coffee and muffins. Tourist relaxing outdoors on a park bench.
If you don't have a garden this can be in a local park. (Getty Images)

"This can help with your mood, your energy levels and your stress too as it serves to give you a break," says Tew. "Aim to expose your arms or legs to some sunlight too to get some vitamin D. This is made by the action of sunlight on the skin in summer months."

Avocado, olives and oil
We need to eat some fats in our diet. (Getty Images)

Don't forget the healthy fats.

"Whilst it can feel like a time to reduce your fat intake, your body needs some fats for brain health, satiety and hormone production. Focus on nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, olive oil and Greek yoghurt for heart healthy options," says Tew.

Portrait of smiling latin woman applying cream on her face while looking in mirror in her bathroom. Young multiethnic woman applying moisturizer on her cheek while looking in the mirror. Happy mexican girl using lotion every morning.
Don't skimp on the SPF. (Getty Images)

"Summer workouts might need a bit of extra planning than your winter workouts!" emphasises Skinner.

"If you're heading outside, make sure you're equipped with water and SPF, as well as proper workout gear (good quality trainers, breathable clothing). You might also need to be more careful about your pre-workout fuel – running without proper nutrition or hydration could result in heat-related exhaustion. The same goes for your post-workout period – make sure to recover slowly, take your time cooling down, and schedule your nutrition and hydration into the rest of your day."