Summer is officially here–the season of cookouts, pool parties, and relaxing beach days in the sun. However you celebrate summer, unpredictable days spent outdoors can often make it difficult to keep your diet on track. Convenient, calorie-laden summer treats (hello, ice cream!) can be hard to resist. Packing a cooler before you set out for a long day at the beach, pool, or park can help you stay on track and make smarter food choices.
When planning for a day outdoors, it’s tempting to throw a candy bar or bag of chips into your beach bag. While these items are conveniently packaged and pre-portioned, they also tend to be highly processed, high in calories, and packed with preservatives. Instead, consider investing in an insulated cooler so that you can eat fresh foods no matter what the weather conditions are.
Pack foods into your cooler in reverse order of use–foods meant to be eaten later in the day will stay frosty at the bottom of the cooler. Use enough ice or ice packs to maintain a temperature below 40 degrees fahrenheit and never consume food that has sat outside of your cooler for longer than two hours.
An active day in the sun and sand can take a toll on your body, so it is important to stay hydrated. Try pre-freezing large bottles of water for your cooler; not only do they stay cold all day long, but they also help keep your cooler frosty.
Craving something sweeter? Add some fruit to your water before freezing. For a healthy alternative to soda, pack sparkling water or naturally flavored seltzer.
Bring lean, utensil-free foods
The best beach foods are easy to eat and require minimal cleanup. Not only do fruits and vegetables get Noom’s green stamp of approval, but they also make the perfect portable snacks. Washed peppers, carrots, broccoli, celery, sugar snap peas, and cherry tomatoes can be chopped and easily stored in small ziploc bags or tupperware. Pair them with delicious dips like hummus or guacamole. Fruits keep your body fueled and their high water content can also help you stay hydrated. Put watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple on a skewer for a easily handled, nutritious snack. Frozen fruits like grapes and berries make refreshing finger foods.
Lunchtime? Some items hold up better than others. Consider making sandwiches with whole wheat pita bread or spinach wraps. Not only are these alternatives more nutritious, but they won’t get soggy when stored. Wrap your creation in wax paper for easy handling on the go. For protein, pack your wrap with grilled chicken, tuna, or tofu. Add avocado for some healthy fat, but be sure to pack tomato slices and condiments in separate containers to prevent your sandwich from getting mushy. Alternatively, make a salad with fresh vegetables, beans, chickpeas, hard boiled eggs, and more (anything goes!).
If for some reason you are unable to bring along a cooler, there are plenty of healthy snacks that don’t require cold storage. Almonds, granola, fresh popcorn, and baked chips are just a few examples of healthy snacks that won’t break your diet if eaten in moderation.
Keep it clean
When eating outdoors, don’t forget to pack along paper towels and sanitary wipes to keep your hands clean. If you require cutlery and dishes, consider opting for the easiest, eco-friendly cleanup by bringing along reusable alternatives.
You can never be over-prepared. The last thing you want when you’re enjoying a day at the beach is to have to trek around in search for something you suddenly need. Pack smart, snack healthy, and enjoy your summer outdoors!