As the mercury in the country’s thermometers nudge steadily up into the mid-forties, it’s hard to be motivated to do anything other than slob on the sofa watching Netflix — perhaps occasionally heading out for an all-you-can-eat evening brunch. However, July and August don’t have to see your health suffer. Here are ten ways you can maintain your well-being and get your diet right.
#1 Load up on fruit and vegetables
“This summer, when trying to stay hydrated, eat plenty of vegetables and fruit,” says Dean Henry, Co-founder of The Clean Living Company in Dubai. “I always state vegetables and fruit rather than the other way around because we should ideally consume more vegetables. Focus on those high in water content such as celery, watermelon, cucumber, kiwi, carrots, pineapple, tomatoes, cauliflower, berries, broccoli and bell peppers.”
#2 Take water seriously
Henry adds that everyone should drink at least 2.5 litres of water a day. “Personally, I start my day with one pint of warm water with half a teaspoon of Himalayan rock salt. I like to call this the poor man’s electrolyte, but in fact it is one of the best ways to stay hydrated throughout the day as the salt will help you hold water and balance your potassium levels.”
#3 Make the most of your morning
Henry also says that along with eating well, people should try and include some exercise in the cooler hours. “It’s best to exercise very early in the morning and slow down a little. A good tip is do your morning stretch or yoga routine outside with no sunglasses for 20 to 30 minutes, then go inside and do your usual workout.”
#4 Strike a balance
“People need to have a balanced diet as it is essential for regulating blood sugar, hunger and thirst,” says Rayan Saleh, Clinical Dietician at Dubai’s Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery. “Meals should include liquids such as home-made soups and complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread and oats — plus dairy products, lean meat, beans and healthy fats such as avocado and raw nuts.”
#5 Cut back on sodium
“Right now, we really need to limit the intake of some food,” adds Saleh. “It is particularly important to avoid salty products such as pickles, canned food, crackers and nuts, which can increase thirst during the day. The same applies to spicy food.”
#6 Forgo fried food
Saleh also advises putting away your frying pans for a bit. “Many people don’t realise that fried food can increase hunger, indigestion and lethargy.”
#7 Curb your coffee intake
A large coffee may be the first thing you want in the morning but in summer caffeinated drinks are not recommended by health experts because they increase insomnia and fluid loss through urination. Try reaching for your favourite herbal tea instead. Ditch the caffeinated fizzy drinks too.
#8 Read the label
When you go to the supermarket during hot months dieticians advise staying away from sugary drinks and high glycaemic index foods, which will add more calories and may increase hunger. Check the labels on all products before you buy.
#9 Get your vitamin D elsewhere
Tanning is not the best way to get vitamin D right now, says Dr Sarah Rizk, Specialist Paediatrician, Shamma Clinic. “When it’s so hot, the safest way to get your vitamin D is through a healthy diet. Ensuring a diet high in fatty fish, nutritious mushrooms, orange juice, fortified milk, cereals and egg yolks can go a long way. Many supplements are also an excellent source of vitamin D.”
#10 Snack wisely
No one is saying you can’t enjoy some sofa time this summer, but instead of opening a massive bag of crisps try a healthier snack that’s just as enjoyable. Home-made, very lightly seasoned popcorn is a fantastic cheap and nutritious option. Dips made with Greek yoghurt are great too.