With the end of July approaching, we have already found ourselves halfway through summer. The days are warmer, longer and full of sun. The summer months usually involve travel, vacation and to put it simply, more fun! With this summer fun sometimes our healthy habits can fall by the wayside. However, at N4L we believe that enjoying ourselves and staying healthy are not mutually exclusive.
As a friendly reminder of ways to prioritize our health, we have created a summer edition of our previous post - 5 Commitments to a Longer, Healthier Life. These five commitments are inspired by the Longevity Regions.
Great, so what are the five commitments again? And how can I stick to them during my summer fun?
1. Eat Nutritious Foods. Sometimes we find ourselves indulging in the summer, but that does not mean we have to lose sight of our healthy eating habits.
- Take advantage of the seasonal fruits and vegetables. Seasonal food is produce that is purchased and consumed around the time that it is harvested. Seasonal food is fresher and more nutritious than out of season food. The Summer is bursting with fruits and vegetables that are in season. Next time you are at the grocery store, try choosing some fruits and vegetables that are harvested in the summer.
- Enjoy locally caught fish. Speaking of eating seasonally, eating fish and the summer go hand in hand. Whether you’re visiting a coastal town or firing up the grill, the summer is a perfect time to incorporate fish into your diet. Fish is a high quality protein rich in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, zinc, magnesium and potassium. Here at N4L we recommend getting most protein from plants and fish 2-3 times a week.
- Practice moderation. Ice cream and the summer also go hand in hand, but that tasty treat should be enjoyed less than 2-3 times a week. Diets high in added sugars are linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends limiting intake of added sugar to 6 tsp per day for women and 9 tsp per day for men. Try our homemade popsicles or grilled peaches recipes for desserts that are delicious and nutritious!
- Schedule your meals. Often we find ourselves eating later in the summer due to the longer hours of sunlight. However, still be sure to stick to your normal meal times. Keep in mind the 12-14 hour window of allowing your body to fast overnight.
- Eat foods from your ancestry and culture. If we are lucky, we find ourselves around family more in the summer. Take that time to learn about what your ancestors ate back in the day. Exploring your roots can be a great opportunity to try something new or fall back in love with a family classic.
2. Move Often. With the longer days, the summer is an ideal time to get out and be active. It is also a chance to mix up our regular workout routines.
- Water activities. Being active in the water is a great way to combine fun and health. Swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, etc. are all exciting ways to get moving while enjoying the water.
- Walk. With more daylight comes more time to enjoy being outside. Make it a habit of going for a walk after dinner. Exercising soon after eating has positive effects on blood sugar by reducing blood glucose concentrations. This is especially important for someone with Type 2 Diabetes.
3. Get Involved in Your Community. In Okinawa, Japan, one of the Longevity Regions, you are born into a “moai” - a small group of friends that stick with you for life. Good connections and social support can improve health and increase longevity. You can find your own moai right in your community.
- Participate in a local 5k. This is a great way to get moving and get involved in your community. There are tons of community races this time of year; many of which are run by nonprofits that support charity. Get a group together and raise some money for a worthy cause!
- Volunteer at a farmer’ market. This is another bang for your buck. This is a way to support local farmers and organizations while also getting some seasonal produce for yourself. As the temperatures get warmer these markets start to pop up. Check out which ones are in your area.
4. Manage Stress. As enjoyable as the summer is, it can still be a stressful time. Sometimes we need a vacation from our vacation. It’s important to manage stress and not let it take hold. Here are great ways to do so, particularly during this season:
- Spend time outdoors. There is nothing more centering than being in nature. Even just getting out to feel the sun on your skin for a few minutes will relax you. And with the summer comes epic sunsets. Take a moment to stop and enjoy the beauty that nature has to offer.
- Reflect. Pause and take a breath before heading into the business of fall. Either write down or simply think about your goals, accomplishments, what you are grateful for. We all need a moment of reflection from time to time.
- Unplug. Sometimes we need to put the devices down in order to completely relax. The summer is an opportune time to go camping and really disconnect.
5. Discover Your Self-Purpose. The term Ikigai, mentioned in the previous 5 commitments post (yet definitely worth mentioning again), is a Japanese word which means “reason to live.”
- Think about what gives you meaning or brings you joy. How can you incorporate that joy into your everyday life? Summer should not be the only time we take advantage of each and every day.