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England in the sunshine, it’s heaven isn’t it? We’re not always so lucky so it’s important to enjoy it while we can. Between the BBQs, beer gardens, and chasing after the ice cream truck like it’s a form of cardio, however, the hot weather can wreak havoc on your diet.

Unlike the winter months, when you can cover up a few extra pounds with layers of knitwear, at this time of year we’re baring all in light clothing or, even more daunting, in swimwear. There’s nowhere to hide when you’re stood in your swimming trunks or bikini so if you want to feel your best you need to make sure you take care of yourself. Luckily, there are ways to enjoy yourself and keep your beach body.

BBQ If you make smart food choices, a BBQ can be really healthy. Load up your plate with salad, opt for wholegrain bread, practice portion control, fire up some good quality lean cuts of meat or equivalent veggie options, and you’ve got yourself a great dinner! Make sure to keep an eye on your condiments though. Mayonnaise, for example, is teaming with calories and bad fats. Ketchup, brown sauce, barbeque sauce, some brands of salad cream, and relish are all better on the calorie front, but they’re high in sugar so use sparingly. Avoid oil-based salad dressings and stick to balsamic vinegar if you can.

If you’re hosting the BBQ it’ll be much easier to ensure that there are healthy options on offer. But if you’re attending one, make sure to bring some foods that you know will fit with your diet and try to resist all the nibbles. It can be very tempting to munch on crisps and dips while you wait for the proper food to be ready, but this mindless grazing can clock up hundreds of calories.

Beer There’s nothing like spending a sunny afternoon in a beer garden with your friends. A pint, however, is around 200 calories. To make things worse, alcohol is ‘empty calories’ – i.e. your body doesn’t benefit in any way, shape or form from it. A way around this is to swap to bottled beer, as these come in smaller portions. We tend to keep pace with those around us, so if you’re having two or three drinks with your friends opting for bottled beer can reduce on the end quantity consumed.

If you prefer wine, a great summertime option is a spritzer. Not only is it lower in calories, but it’s more refreshing and helps fight against hangovers too. Avoid cocktails like the plague as they’re full of sugar. If you want to get down to the bare bones of good drinks options, a spirit and mixer is the (contextually) healthiest but hammering the vodka sodas at 2pm is a bit hardcore for most of us.

A final option is to limit yourself to just one alcoholic drink. This can be difficult, especially if your friends are the type to cajole you, but it can suit drivers who know that if they go beyond one drink they can’t get behind the wheel. Breaking your diet is one thing but breaking the law is quite another.

Ice cream truck         Oh, the bells, the bells they are a calling! It’s amazing how that sound taps into our inner child and destroys our will power. As far as sweet treats go, soft serve vanilla ice cream isn’t too bad. Just make sure to skip the sauces, sprinkles and chocolate flake. They’re still not suitable for every day enjoyment though.

Healthier alternatives include homemade fruit juice ice pops, freezing grapes and orange segments, or opting for the kids’ size where available. Best of all is ‘nice cream’. Chop up some bananas, freeze, then whizz in a blender with milk. It’s so simple and the results are heavenly! From this simple base you can add all kinds of things – frozen berries, cocoa powder, turmeric latte mix etc. If you want some added oomph, use a scoop of protein powder too.

Appreciate yourself  One of the main reasons we go to the gym and watch what we eat is to look good so make sure to take some time to check yourself out in the mirror this summer. Okay, it sounds vain, but you’ve worked hard and deserve to reap the rewards! Wear your summer clothes with confidence and enjoy your body – who knows how long this weather will last.