With nice weather upon us and the seasonal changing of wardrobes, many may be thinking (or feeling) guilty thoughts of past weeks’ nutritional deviations. If you are among those feeling this way — stop! Ava Safir, registered dietitian with RVNAhealth explains that it’s okay to acknowledge the feelings, but also recognize that we’ve all been through a difficult time.

Before starting a daily diet cleanup, cut yourself some slack and reflect on what we’ve been through. Maybe even applaud yourself for any positive food experiences you’ve had while homebound — learning to cook new things, baking with kids, bonding experiences over meals or snacks. Once you have considered both the negative and positive sides to your eating pattern digressions, then make your plan to get back on track.

The good news is summer brings many natural ways to improve habits. With more activities available outside the home, there are less opportunities for temptation inside the pantry. Take advantage of good weather to take more walks or hikes. Partake of the colors of the rainbow in the produce section of grocery stores, which make healthy eating easier and fun. Colorful fruits and vegetables look and taste great and offer immune-boosting benefits. Outdoor grilling also offers many low-fat cooking options. Stick to lean meats and poultry, grilled vegetables, and even grilled fruits to satisfy a sweet tooth.

When tempted to indulge beyond your plan, rule out boredom or unmet emotional needs first. Of course, temptations never go away — celebrations often involve cake, barbeques often have alcohol. It’s okay to celebrate and enjoy. Just be sure to set boundaries for yourself and be mindful of your eating habits. And don’t forget to be kind to yourself — it’s been a trying time!

Theresa Santoro