We all know that winter and holidays can test our well-intended, “healthy eating goals”. Summer can just as easily offer the same sabotage with beer, wine, cocktails, BBQ dates, carnivals, fairs, and on the go fun. Fortunately, we can stay on track with some planning and being in the know. There is usually a healthy option for the foods we crave and how we prepare our foods plays a big role in our staying energized. 

Lemonade, ice-tea, cocktails.  Commercially sweetened iced tea has 80 calories per glass, lemonade has 100 calories, and most fruit juices are about 80 calories per 8 ounces, roughly the same number of calories as a regular soda. Instead, when you crave a sweet drink, I suggest diluting fruit juice with an equal portion of water, or even a 25% ratio will help. Cocktails? Be mindful to not drink your calories and wreck the work you did for the day. 

Keep fresh fruit cut and ready to grab. Fruit may seem like a good choice, but not if your fruit salad is filled with canned fruit soaked in syrup, loaded with whipped cream, and garnished with mini marshmallows, as it often is at summer picnics. Make it healthier by using fresh fruit rather than canned and opt for light whipped cream or plain yogurt (which provides extra protein). Replace the marshmallows with banana or melon slices to add more sweetness. 

Fair and carnival fun food choices. Hot dogs/sausages are high in saturated fat, calories, preservatives and loaded with sodium. If you desire a savory meal, go for the chicken or turkey gyro or chicken kebab options, sans the teriyaki-sugary sauces. Chicken on a stick is also a healthier option. To satisfy a sweet tooth, ditch the fried, sugar-topped funnel cakes and snack on kettle corn samples. 

Go easy on the toppings. Ending the day with a dish of ice cream can put your daily calorie/fat intake over the top, especially if you choose a variety with added mix-ins. Instead of a giant sundae with lots of toppings, get a cone, the lowest-calorie option, or frozen yogurt.  Moderation is key. No need to deprive.

Mind your chips and dip. It is so easy to lose track of how many chips you have eaten, and the fat and calories add up quickly. An ounce of potato chips contains 150 calories, and it is easy to mindlessly eat two to three times this amount. For a healthier option, chow down on sliced veggies with hummus or a yogurt-based dip, instead.

Keep summer salads light. Salads can be a great, low-calorie food choice — or a major calorie bomb. To keep things light, top summer salads with low-fat dressing, or make your own and substitute Greek yogurt for mayo. My favorite recipe is below.

“Cheat meals”. This phrase already demonizes food and exemplifies “naughty” behavior. I do not do cheat meals. I do not deprive myself of food I want. It makes us want it more. But we do need to be mindful that we cannot out exercise a bad diet. Read that again. We cannot out exercise a bad diet. No matter what, abs are made in the kitchen. Maintaining a healthy balance of movement and healthy food choices will set us up in the right way. Do not cut out foods you love. Simply decide you only need one cookie, not three. And if you have the one cookie, maybe eliminate the ice cream later or only have a few spoonfuls, not the whole cup. 

Let’s choose US this summer. We have all had such a challenging year and we definitely deserve some indulgences. By choosing to prioritize our health and making better choices this summer, we are deciding on “self-care” and deciding that WE matter. Seize the day!

Courtney Daylong is a Carnegie Mellon University alum and holds a Masters in Public Management with a focus in Strategic Planning. She has spent over a decade in executive leadership as a District Manager and Regional Vice President in education and with American Honda Motor Co. throughout the Midwest and Los Angeles. She also has completed doctoral studies from the University of Southern California in Public Policy as well as a BA in education. After having three boys, she co-founded a global nutrition business, Totally Fit Mama with her celebrity client. She now teaches at the Gelfend Center - Carnegie Mellon University and works with private clients. Living on platinum status at hotels, the reality of eating well and making healthy food choices on the road can prove to be challenging.... This was Courtney's life as a corporate District Manager and Vice President until she began taking "green drinks" and healthy snacks on her travels while her colleagues watched as her energy soared and their interest piqued. She became the "go to" person for healthy insight about living well and eating healthy on the road. (Prior to her corporate life, Courtney was in the modeling industry and battled anorexia, her earliest time facing questions of food choices). After having her first child, she was exclusively breastfeeding and learned he was milk/soy protein intolerant (MSPI). She chose to eliminate all dairy and soy from her diet and saw a vast difference in her baby. This began her formal interest in nutrition and her decision to leave the corporate world. She had her second child , also needing to eliminate dairy and soy for approximately one year. Both boys grew out of their intolerance around the age of one, but Courtney's interest in quality nutrition for her family was soon met by studying at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. IIN teaches hundreds of dietary theory's from Paleo to Vegan to the cabbage soup diet, with no one right way for everyone. One persons food is another's poison, as they say, and Courtney appreciates the teaching of bio individuality, practicing it with her clients today. Holding a Masters in Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University, a Bachelor of Arts from Point Park University and doctoral coursework in risk mgmt from the University of Southern California, she now works with individuals, companies and schools to better help their overall health, quality of life and nutrition knowledge for improved choices. As a sought after celebrity health and nutrition coach, she is known for her ability to really listen to her clients needs while creating empowering plans for their "health revolution". She is also an accredited breastfeeding counselor with a focus on maternal and infant nutrition, helping mamas, babies and toddlers get the right nutrition foundation leading to making long term healthy food choices. Courtney also teaches at The Gelfand Center-Carnegie Mellon University. www.courtneydaylong.com