Summer lends itself to many social gatherings from pool parties, to BBQs to baseball games and more. With all the mingling, it’s too easy to lose sight of being our healthiest, but with a little planning, it can remain game on.

1. Forgo the “calories in = calories out” line of thinking. 

Rather than tracking every crumb in a food journal to measure your total calorie intake, spend more time on eating whole, real food and tasting the food. If you are headed to that summer cookout, opt to bring a side, sourcing local produce from a Farmer’s Market or grocery (even Costco lists produce that is local). And going on the idea of tasting your food – make sure between conversations you are chewing each bite and really enjoying and tasting the ingredients. This allows your body to tune-in on how much you are eating, giving you sensations of when you have had enough. Bottom line, food quality determines fat burning capabilities, not quantity. If you are not able to sit down and enjoy the food you consider a “treat” perhaps an outing isn’t the best time to gain the satisfaction of that food. Make smart choices everywhere possible.

2. Hydrate with mineral or filtered water.

Even mild dehydration can slow down our metabolism. Carrying a water bottle around can be one of the easiest things to do in the summer, and make it a point to drink 8-10 ounces of water before each meal. My latest favorite way to attract myself to drink more aqua is to make a pitcher of water with slices of cucumbers and/or some strawberries and fresh mint.

3. Wake-up to a protein smoothie.

Research suggests many perks for weight loss when starting the day with a meal replacement shake, including a base (25-45 grams) of protein, such as non-soy, non-dairy plant-based protein powder (I like Raw Protein powder or SunWarrior). My favorite combo is protein powder, spinach, avocado, cocoa powder, banana, ice and filtered water.

4. Nurture sleep.

Just because the sun goes down later, doesn’t mean we should skimp on our sleep too.  Lack of sleep adversely affects numerous hormones in our body and can be the reason for an impulse danish purchase with your AM coffee or surge of carb cravings throughout the day. Aim for 8 hours, and do not fall under 7 hours of sleep. Overall, assess for yourself and know how much shut-eye your body needs.

5. Don’t deprive.

Even though the first point in this write-up is to eat more real food – there is a place for enjoying a food that brings you pleasure, especially on a toasty summer day. Just make sure when you do savor a treat, that it’s at a time you have the time to taste the goody. In their book Willpower, Baurneiser and Tierney recommend that people who want to lose weight should “never say never.” Rather opt to eat things you consider a treat at a time where you can really enjoy the food, tasting every bite. Overall, it’s not what we eat some of the times, rather our health comes from what we eat most of the time.