Summer Supports Long-Term Dietary Changes -- Act NOW

06/17/2015 11:30 am ET | Updated Jun 17, 2016

Summertime has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere, and the change of seasons is now working on your behalf to set you up for some successful dietary changes. You know, those changes you've wanted to make to your diet forever... the really positive ones.

Yeah, those.

NOW is the time to do that.

You want to know why it's so hard to make healthy changes in January, when everyone else is trying to force them to happen? Because it's freaking c-o-l-d in January and all your body REALLY wants is a pork chop, butter-laden mashed potatoes and broccoli au gratin followed by warm chocolate molten lava cake.

Seriously, y'all... you are a mammal. Instincts lead you towards heartier foods that are going to fatten you up and keep you warm during the colder months. Reason #117 you should not start a new diet regimen in January. It goes against what your DNA and your internal mechanisms are telling you. When it's cold your body is telling you to LOAD UP ON FOOD because you'll need more weight to keep your ass warm this winter. Feverishly trying to eat lighter food when your body is asking for heavy food is like being a fish swimming upstream. A whole lot of work with little to no progress.

Listen to your body. Summertime is here and now is the time for eating light.

When it's hot, I have zero interest in hot meals. I also drink more water effortlessly. My diet goes up to 80 percent raw in the summer time. I don't plan it that way, it just happens and my body gets blasted with nutrition as a result. Raw foods contain more nutrients because heating/cooking anything kills off nutritional value.

In order to set yourself up for a successful transition to healthier eating, NOW is the best time to create those new habits.

Now is when your body will help you support those choices.

Now is the time to teach your brain where all the good nutrition is so it can ask for it later on (read: crave) when it's not so easy to make those decisions on your own.

My summer diet looks something like this...

  • Salads, salads and more salads. Sometimes topped with grilled meats, fish or veggies.
  • Alkalizing and low-glycemic fruit -- watermelon, cantaloupe and berries. Cut up and refrigerated, the melons offer great cooling relief when the desire for sweets hits.
  • Simple plates of fresh garden tomatoes and cucumber with salt, pepper, oil, vinegar and fresh basil.
  • Lots of steamed green bean snacks. I toss them with a variety of flavor enhancers. Sesame oil, garlic and olive oil or pestos.
  • Marinated then grilled veggies. I snack on these or add them to my salads.
  • Smoothies. Lots of smoothies

The key to successfully sticking to your changes lies in being prepared and organized. I do that by planning for leftovers. That's right... over-cooking. I don't believe in one stop chopping. No ma'am. While the stove top, oven or grill are blazing hot and ready, I take a few more minutes to double up on whatever it is I'm cooking.

If you are cooking things like quinoa, rice or potatoes as side dishes, you can take any of those left over and use them as a base for a cold summer salad. For example...

  • You can take quinoa and fold in some leftover fresh salsa and make a delicious cold salad to accompany your meal the following night.
  • Rice and be combined with some pesto and sliced cherry tomatoes for a cool and satisfying side dish.
  • Potatoes and be folded with finely diced red onion, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt & pepper to make a nice German-style potato salad.

Do you see where I'm going here?

This summer you might want to consider having things like these in YOUR fridge so that there are always some healthier choices at the ready.

  • quinoa, whole grain & rice salads
  • bean salads
  • guacamole
  • potato salad (sans mayo)
  • fresh salsas for topping grilled meats/fish/chicken
  • squash, peppers, eggplant, sweet potatoes can be cut up quickly for grilling.

Never ever make just one green salad. If you are going to pull all of that stuff out of your fridge to prepare one, always make more than you need.

SALAD LONGEVITY TIPS: If you want your salads to stay "fresh" in the fridge for a few days always follow these guidelines:

  • Remove the seeds from cucumbers before slicing. They have a tendency to get slimy quickly. Same with tomatoes. Slice and add them just before serving OR use cherry tomatoes.
  • Use single green "greens." Ever notice when you buy blended greens (mesclun for example) that some of the greens degenerate more quickly than the others? So frustrating, right? I only buy those types of greens for salads I'll be making and consuming quickly because if I don't get to it for a few days I end up throwing the whole salad out because the greens get crappy so fast. If I'm going to make a larger quantity of salad to last me a few days I use just arugula... or romaine... or red leaf. I have much better luck with longevity with just one variety of greens when I am preparing for a longer stay in the fridge.
  • Always dress just before serving. I like small glass caper jars for when I am traveling with my salad. I can put the dressing inside of the jar then put the jar inside the salad container for easy transport.

Summer is here.

Now is the time to transition to healthier foods.

Improving the quality of your life starts with changing your diet. Period. There is no way around it.

If you are serious about wanting to change your life you've got to change what is going in your pie hole.

Or... you can keep doing what you are doing and getting crappy results.

You decide.