It’s almost the middle of summer which means it’s prime time for the season of sun, carnivals, fairs, lazy beach days, and amazing seasonal food!
Every year it seems like there are more and more “healthy” and trendy summer foods to try along with a ton of classics. But, while a lot of these foods may be marketed as a picture perfect healthy summer treat, the reality is many of them are not as healthy for you as they may seem. Studies show that substantial weight gain occurs for many over summer and especially for children, gaining almost three times more weight than during the regular school year. This problem is often related to a lack of awareness of healthy foods and drinks and a lot of common confusion among summertime classics that are deemed as “healthy” when often they are not.
So dive into this list of 8 healthy summer foods and drinks that are actually unhealthy, you may be surprised what you read!
So many people will choose to drink a big smoothie over eating a healthy meal in the hopes of making a smarter, and more health-conscious decision. But, the reality is that many of the smoothies that people purchase nowadays while including fruit and maybe even some veggies are packed with fake and excess sugar from fruit juices, “fruit” sorbet or artificial sweeteners and fattening dairy. When it comes to smoothies, it is extremely important to pay attention to all of the ingredients and the best way to ensure the use of healthy, whole ingredients may be to even make your smoothies by yourself at home!
2. Seasonal Salads
Yes, salad is technically healthy for you and summer promises some of the most delicious and colorful seasonal salads. While it’s true that you can almost never go wrong with a mix of leafy greens, if you are not careful, your healthy choice to eat a delicious and refreshing salad could be even worse for you than anything else on the menu. What makes your “healthy” salad so unhealthy isn’t the leafy greens, it's what we add to our salads. From toppings like bacon bits, cheeses, canned fruits, crispy chicken, thick and creamy dressings along with portion size could make your attempt at a health-conscious choice a dangerous choice.
3. Acai Bowls
Let me just say, Acai bowls are some of THE BEST and most iconic summertime treats. It is my opinion that acai bowls are some of the most healthy options out there, however, more and more I see places popping up (especially over summer) selling acai bowls and when looking at the ingredients I am appalled. Much like smoothies many acai bowls being sold now contain artificial sweeteners and unhealthy fruit mixes from the use of sorbet (which yes, is an artificial fruit ice cream), and artificial fruit juices along with toppings of chocolate, fattening granola and fruit sauces. Of course, not all acai bowls are made from these things and these bowls are essentially carb-loading you with energy to make it through the day, it is important to be able to distinguish healthy bowls from unhealthy bowls.
4. Veggie Burgers
When thinking of classic summer foods, some of the things that may come to mind are the classic hot dogs, barbecue or burgers that you can find at any beach cookout or pool party barbecue. For many people craving a burger and trying to be healthy at a summertime event, they may gravitate towards a veggie burger in the hopes of making a better decision. But veggie patties themselves are a highly processed and manufactured food, often made with whole milk dairy products and containing GMO’s and possible pesticides (if not grown organically). Throw the pattie together between some buns and add a bunch of toppings and your healthy choice could contain as many if not more calories and carbohydrates than a regular burger.
5. Dried Fruit
Sure, while dried fruit still contains many of the fruits vitamins, nutrients, and fibers these are packed with tons of added sugar, possible artificial sweeteners, and unhealthy preservatives. Some dried fruit is okay in moderation but it is ALWAYS best to stick with regular fruits for your day.
6. Trail Mix
*sigh* Trail mix. It comes in so many various forms and delicious options. I’ll be honest, I am a weakling when it comes to trail mix, it's just too delicious and too easy to eat on the go. But, even with the protein from the nut mixes they are often packed with unhealthy chocolate, candy and other dried fruits (discussed in #5).
There is nothing like some cold fro-yo on a hot day! It is so good and is commonly looked at as a healthier option to ice cream, which it actually is! The only real downside here besides flavors made from artificial sweeteners is the way we consume fro-yo. Most of us will go somewhere like Pinkberry or Yogurtland and load it up with tons of crazy fun toppings, that might enhance the flavor and fun but ultimately makes it WAY WAY worse than getting a scoop of ice cream.
So juicing has been around for awhile now and always seems to come back on trend during the summer as people are striving for their ideal beach bod. So many people think it is a better alternative for a meal replacement, but there have been countless studies done discounting the so-called “health benefits” of juicing, especially for extended periods of time. Of course while getting a green juice (or whatever your preference) here and there will not harm you and could give you that extra boost of energy or vitamins, you are not getting all the essential nutrients from the fruit and vegetables from just consuming the juice. Instead, the majority of what you are consuming is the plant's sugars which can contribute to excess sugars in the body which is never good. Also, I cannot stress enough how unhealthy juice cleanses are. While often paired alongside with intermittent fasting juice cleanses have been proven to harm the body and manifest in individuals with headaches dehydration, lack of energy, and elevating your blood sugar. Point-blank your body needs food, and there is nothing healthy about starving yourself, no matter what anyone says.
Ultimately, all of these summer foods and drinks could still be healthy and even beneficial in moderation. I am not bashing any of these foods or drinks because these are all things that I love to consume often as well, but the key in keeping these “healthy” foods healthy is to educate yourself on proper nutrition, know and listen to your body and make sure that during these hot summer months, you are hydrated and getting proper nutrition to fuel your body, stay healthy and perform your best!