Summer is here! It’s time for backyard barbecues and sunny days by the water.
While summer is the perfect time to gather outdoors and enjoy friends and family, it is often laden with PCOS diet booby traps. Watch out for sugary summer cocktails, gluten-filled pasta salads, and the temptation to spend the entire day lying on your beach towel.
Here are some of my favorite ways to make the most of summer and leave you feeling terrific in the fall!
- Make a Plan– Plan ahead for travel snacks, meals on the go, potlucks, picnics, and day trips. If you plan, you are less likely to find yourself at a drive-thru or on the beach with nothing but a hot dog and a bag of chips. Keep a little cooler in your car full of cut veggies, fruit, trail mix and protein bars.
- Be a Potluck Diva– When invited to a gathering, bring a beautiful salad packed with flavorful ingredients and protein. Assume that protein will be served, but just in case there is no PCOS diet friendly option, you will have a good alternative. I like to bring my Summer Cook-out Salad. It looks beautiful and is a really delicious way to stay on track.
- Take an Ice Cream Detour– Women with PCOS should avoid dairy. When the local ice cream stand calls, be sure to have an ice cream alternative ready at home. My family loves to make coconut milk ice cream sundaes (topped with juicy fresh fruit) or enjoy a gluten-free cone. You can find great brands at the grocery store, or even better, make your own. My family’s favorites homemade flavors are: Vanilla Cherry Chip, Maple Vanilla, and Black Raspberry.
- Cocktail Hour Buzz Kill– While women with PCOS need to be very cautious about consuming alcohol, I think it is okay to enjoy the occasional Diva-friendly cocktail. Beware! Summer cocktails are often packed with sugar. Margaritas, mojitos and daiquiris contain more hidden sugar than you need in a day or more. Consider a cocktail alternative. Try a wine spritzer. I like to mix half white wine and half flavored seltzer and float frozen berries. Try making a signature cocktail of your own using gluten and sugar free ingredients. I recently discovered Spiked Seltzers. These are low-sugar bottled alcoholic flavored seltzers. Check out their website for great lower sugar cocktail ideas.
- Prioritize Indulgence– Denial is not part of the PCOS Diva diet. If you absolutely must have a piece of mom’s cherry pie, have a little. Be sure that you keep the serving small- enough to satisfy your craving, but not enough to make you feel lousy for days. Sometimes denying yourself special foods can make you feel worse. It helps to remember that this is not the last opportunity you will ever have to eat that food. There will be other opportunities to eat that pie, you don’t have to have it today or never. When you do indulge, choose one special thing, be mindful, and really savor it.
- Move It! When the meal is over, don’t sit around. Grab the family and go for a walk, play horse shoes, fly kites, build a sand castle. When you get everyone moving, you will feel better and make some memories!
- Crowd out the Crummy- Fill your plate with vegetables and lean protein first. Crowd out the pasta and potato salads with leafy greens and crunchy veggies. If you fill up on these healthy and fiber rich foods, you will have less room for all the foods that will leave you feeling lousy later.
- Hydrate! Water is your best friend all year long, but especially in the summer. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water, particularly if you are exercising or in the direct sun. Staying hydrated will prevent you from getting awful headaches or pouncing on the first beverage you find. I like to add frozen berries and mint to my water bottle in the summertime.
- Cut Out the Caffeinated and Carbonated Drinks- These drinks contain preservatives, colors and sugars which do your body no good. They are also diuretics and cause loss of fluids through urine. Diet sodas are no exception, especially for women with PCOS.
- Nothing Tastes as Good as Feeling Good Feels– I never encourage women to deny themselves a food they are desperately craving, but remember, many foods that you crave will leave you feeling lousy later. The macaroni salad you indulge in today will likely leave you feeling logy and sick later in the day and for days to come. Choose to feel good!
So kick back and enjoy the sunny days ahead. Be sure to take care of yourself, and when the chilly days of fall roll around, you’ll still be feeling terrific.