EATING five smaller meals each day becomes much easier with summer's affordable bounty of fresh produce, which is great because eating regularly encourages a healthy metabolism and discourages weight gain, mood swings and mid-day sluggishness.
First though, you need to stock-up on summertime fruits and vegetables.
The best resource is a personal garden because growing your own produce not only saves money, but also provides hours of exercise! Obviously, gardens are not an option for everyone, but do not discount the planting potential of a porch, deck or even a well-lit windowsill. If your thumb is not so green, or even if it is, remember to take advantage of seasonal farmers' markets and ask your local grocer what's fresh, local and in-season.
You'll find an array of summer fruits, from apples, cherries, peaches, and watermelon to blueberries, blackberries and strawberries, and don't forget the vegetables, like summer squash, cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumber, and, of course, corn on the cob!
Next, you'll need a sound strategy to make it through your delicious summer produce. Planning meals in advance saves precious time on busy summer days, and also helps if you're watching your weight or trying to maintain high energy levels.
Early morning is the best time to eat a large meal, especially in the summer, because it provides energy for burning throughout the day. Consider sweetening your breakfast shake with a cup of fresh berries, or try a medley of granola, fresh fruit and yogurt topped with honey and nuts.
For your morning snack, there's nothing wrong with an old-fashioned apple-aday, but seasonal orchard favourites, like peaches and pears, make summer extra sweet. Also, try raw cauliflower dipped in hummus for a vitamin-rich blast of mid-morning fibre and protein.
For lunch, try stuffing sandwiches made on whole grain breads with extrathick slices of tomato and cucumber. Don't forget, a well-balanced lunch that includes complex carbs can mean the difference between a sunny second-wind and an unplanned nap!
Long summer afternoons are when our diets are threatened most by the likes of ice cream, or worse, empty calories from sugary ice-pops. Instead, try frozen yogurt, or, better yet, a chilled bowl of seasonal berries to satisfy sudden, sweet tooth cravings.
Once you finally return home after a full day of summertime fun, don't let your increased activity level be an excuse to order in. Summer squash and zucchini are great additions to quick-to-heat, and re-heat, casseroles, while bell peppers and potatoes are great for the barbecue.
And don't forget the ultimate summer vegetable, corn on the cob.
Just try to go light on the butter and salt!
Shaun Karp is a certified personal trainer. For further information call 604-420-7800 or go to www.karpfitness.com.