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Preparing for summer’s challenges

By Sonia Salfity , Family Flavours - Jul 11,2021 - Last updated at Jul 11,2021

Photo courtesy of Family Flavours magazine

Now that summer has arrived, we get an entire set of challenges mixed in with the blessing of warmer weather.

The blessings

Summer is a joyful time of year because we have happier weather and longer daylight hours. It’s also known to be the time of year when it’s easier to lose unwanted weight — our body temperature is higher, which increases our metabolism. A higher metabolism means we burn more calories. It’s also easier to get active in the summer months when enjoying outdoor activities ranging from hiking to walking, depending on our fitness level and lifestyle. We are also less likely to reach out for comfort foods to stay warm or combat seasonal depression. 

The challenges

Hydration: It doesn’t take long to get dehydrated in the summer months. Dehydration leads to headaches, migraines and issues like kidney problems for those who already have renal issues. It is essential to keep that water bottle with us when we leave the house and remind ourselves to drink throughout the day. I start my day with two glasses of water before I even have my coffee. This sets the tone for the rest of my day and I feel much more energetic when I’m well hydrated before leaving the house. Experts say that if you wait to drink your water when you feel thirsty, then you are already dehydrated so it’s best to be proactive and make it a habit to choose water above any other beverage. This way, we’re more likely to get our eight glasses a day. Besides keeping our kidneys in good health and flushing the toxins out of the body, drinking enough water helps the skin feel and look younger. Who doesn’t want that! 

Ice cream: The second challenge I have in the summertime is ice cream and other cool and refreshing sugar-loaded treats. There’s nothing more joyful than an ice-cream cone on a hot summer day. You feel like a kid when you enjoy this old favourite that reminds us of our precious childhood memories. I still remember what that delicious ice cream tasted like when I was a kid and my siblings and cousins and I would visit the ice-cream factory near our house and enjoy that pure vanilla taste. If you’re not drooling already from this description, you are probably not a desperate dieter and can move on! For the rest of us, childhood memories tied to food items are a challenge we must learn to conquer. 

We can do many other joyful things that remind us of fond childhood memories that have nothing to do with food. We can focus on those rather than on food memories. We can also train our minds not to attach too much emotion to the foods we eat. We should control food instead of it controlling us. You’ll know when a food item is controlling you when you cannot stop at one serving. Popcorn can be one of those dangerous foods that you can’t stop after a cup or two. Another one in this category for me is nuts. Even though they are a source of healthy fats and are loaded with many vitamins and minerals, I must be extra careful and count them out only to eat one serving instead of ten! 

Body shaming: Another challenge I have is that summer clothes have no mercy! At least in the winter months we have the cold weather as an excuse to wear the sweater that covers the hips, thighs and buttocks. We don’t have that luxury in the summer and we can’t take cover! This means we truly have to practice feeling secure in our own bodies and appreciating that God has given us this one body to love and care for. The positive side to these challenges is that we get an opportunity to love ourselves enough to be ourselves. We don’t have to hide or take cover and we don’t have to feel ashamed just because we come in different shapes and sizes. What a boring world it would be if we all came out of the same mould and looked alike.

It’s time to embrace and love ourselves in the present because only when we can love ourselves can we truly care enough to take better care of our bodies. Better care means treating our bodies with kindness and respect. If you were kind to your body, would you deprive it of the water it needs to function properly? Is it kindness to sit on the couch for hours on end and deny your joints the pleasures of moving and stretching? You wouldn’t treat a guest or a friend like that, so why would you treat yourself like you’re your own worst enemy? 

Overthinking about food: Here’s to summer and sunshine as we enjoy spending time with family and friends! May we focus more on our relationships with the people in our lives, including our own selves, instead of keeping our focus on food and the number on our scale. What we focus on grows; fixating too much on food can make us obsessed with it every hour of the day, wondering what we will eat and when and where we will eat it. May we resolve to live like we did when we were carefree children and never obsessed about our meals. We were more focused on playing outside and staying active; food was secondary.

Here’s to living in freedom from the captivity of food addiction and feeling lighter and joyful this summer!


Reprinted with permission from Family Flavours magazine

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