• Dr Sally Norton


Summer’s the time when many of us think about how we can improve our health and weight. Maybe it’s having to get our bodies out from under the woolly layers or perhaps the sunshine just gives us a boost of energy and motivation. But it can also be hard to keep up healthy habits when you are tempted by summer cocktails, ice-creams and all-you-can-eat holiday hotel buffets.

The key is to do all those things you love to do in the summer so you don’t feel deprived – but just make them that little bit healthier, wherever you can.

Barbecues can be super healthy and delicious or totally sabotage your healthy eating goals depending on how much greasy, sugary sauce you baste your meat with or ladle onto your plate.

Poor quality fatty, processed meat in sausages or other barbecue fodder is far inferior for your health and weight when compared to grass-fed quality fresh meat. And choosing oily fish like salmon or mackerel would be a positively good barbecue choice thanks to the good-for-you omega 3 fats they contain.

Try these healthier options....


Salads too can be uninspiring limp lettuce and watery tomatoes, made palatable by lashings of shop-bought sugary dressings. Or they can be delicious combinations of fibre-filled and filling roasted squash or beetroot, puy lentils and crisp peppery leaves, splashed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and some tangy feta cheese. Or a rainbow of crunchy, colourful and nutrient-rich peppers, tomatoes, spring onions, radishes, raw cabbage, chard and more topped with a sprinkling of toasted seeds or nuts.

These are worth a try...


Sugar-laden, creamy cocktails can be easily replaced with zingy fresh drinks – with or without a little splash of alcohol. Sparkling soda water and summer herbs like mint, basil, lemon balm or fresh lemon, lime or berries make a great base for a refreshing drink. And a long, dilute drink will keep dehydration and hangovers to a minimum.

I may try one or two of these!


And those same flavour combinations can be used to make refreshing ice-lollies. Whilst creamy, sugary ice-creams can be made much healthily at home by using a yoghurt base and fruits for sweetness. Have you tried blending a frozen banana and a handful of cashews, for example. Deliciously simple!

Here are some variations on the same theme


And as for those summer buffets, studies show that when we pick at food we can end up eating far more than we intended. So, go up once, with a small plate, and fill it with the freshest, least processed food you can find. Avoid the battered, carb-heavy or sugary options. They are usually calorie-dense and nutrient-poor. Choose fresh protein, wholegrains, salad and similar. A large dollop of hummus with veg sticks is a good, filling choice and keeps you busier, dunking and chewing, than the ‘quick, pop in your mouth and have another’ bite-size nibbles.

With a bit of thought and some gentle tweaks to your summer favourites, you can ensure your holiday season is healthy as well as fun.