Sandy Feet and Good Things to Eat

There is something fascinating about the warm weather and sunny skies that make people so happy. Summer instantly brings thoughts of relaxation. For some people, the most unforgettable moments of leisure during the summertime are found on the beach. Trips to the seashore offer endless opportunities for sightseeing and entertainment. Sunscreen, beach chairs, umbrellas and towels are just a few of the necessary items packed for the day in the sun. Many beachgoers bring a cooler full of drinks, lunch food and snacks. Those that do not come prepared with food, often head to the boardwalk for a bite to eat.

However, nourishing food choices may not be plentiful when venturing onto the boards in search of satisfying your hunger and thirst. Your cooler may also not be filled with the best nutrients that your body needs to enjoy the day in the sun. Consuming nutritious foods and beverages is not only best for your beach body but also for maintaining and safeguarding your health.

“Everyone is particularly mindful of body weight during bathing suit season,” said Kathy Maloney, Director of Health Services. “Calorie intake is still very important, so you should be conscious of choosing the right foods to eat.”

If you are packing a cooler of food for your beach day, consider some of these healthy food choices. “Wraps are a great option for lunch on the beach,” said Health Studies Professor Julie Schaaff. “You can fill them with veggies, spinach, sliced turkey, lettuce, avacado; the combinations are endless!”

There are certain foods you should avoid on a hot day. “Foods and condiments like potato and macaroni salad, tuna salad sandwiches, cole slaw, and mayonnaise do not hold up well in the heat,” said Maloney. “Heat causes bacteria to grow at an accelerated rate, so foods like these can harbor harmful bacteria if left in the heat.”

Stopping on the way to the beach for food items? Healthy selections are almost always available at quick stops and make great cooler-fillers. “Bowls of fruit are the simplest, healthiest, and most refreshing choices for the beach that I either bring from home or stop for on my way,” said sophomore Alexandra Marino. “Fruits and vegetables are nutrients that your body needs and they are so satisfying on a hot beach day.”

Of course lunch time is always accompanied with snacks. Celery, carrots, apples, grapes, and other fruits and vegetables make great beach bites. “Almonds also make a great treat for that mid-afternoon craving,” said Schaaff.

“So does trail mix with low sugar cereal, such as Cheerios or Rice Chex, nuts, raisins and some chocolate chips!” added Schaaff.

Heading off the sand to the boardwalk for some food? It may be more difficult to find a variety of healthy options, but there are still ways to make your lunch good for you. “I love thin crust pizza,” said Schaaff. “It is just as filling as regular pizza but has less calories and fat.”

Summer nights bring the enjoyment of a backyard or beach barbeque. Sometimes it is too hard to resist a juicy cheeseburger fresh off the grill. However, make sure to include key nutrients as well. “I eat a lot of salads during the summer with my meals,” said Schaaff. “They help me stay cooler in the warmer weather, and I can take advantage of all of the delicious produce like peaches, blueberries and jersey tomatoes.” Skipping the red meat occasionally is a healthier option as well. “Grilled chicken and grilled vegetables have that perfect barbeque taste,” said Marino. “Mixing the grilled chicken with salad is a favorite of mine!”

Topping off a night with dessert can also be made into healthy treats without sacrificing taste. “Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares are my go-to sweet-craving,” said Schaaff. Fruit also satisfies sweet cravings because of its natural sugars. “Apples are great for after dinner,” said Marino. “They’re healthy, filling, and taste so good!” If you need a chocolate kick to top off your night, fruits are still an option. “Chocolate-covered apples are amazing and fun to share with friends,” said Schaaff.

During the summer months especially, hydrating with water is extremely essential for your body. “Many times we think we are hungry, but we are actually thirsty,” said Schaaff. “Drinking several glasses of water throughout the day helps refresh your body and reduces the risk of overheating.”

As you plan your beach trips and backyard dinners, be sure to fill your body with the nutrients it needs to sustain itself during the warm day and night. Healthy foods are always available somewhere, so treat your body to something nutritious.