"Beat the Heat, Without the Sweet"Summer time is synonymous with warm weather, backyard barbecues and good eats. With all the festivities summer brings, it can be challenging to not overindulge on sweet treats that cool us down – ice cream, watermelon and sweetened beverages like sodas, iced tea, and frozen coffee drinks are readily available during summertime festivities and often feel like a necessity when it’s so hot out.

The problem with these snacks is that they are loaded with excess sugar, which adds calories and will actually slow you down instead of hydrating you. Many of my patients at my clinic of integrative medicine don’t realize how much sugar they have in a day when they’re consuming it through beverages and fruit, and often wonder why they feel sluggish midday or can’t shed pounds, even when they try to eat healthy otherwise. In fact, excess sugar is oftentimes the culprit for dehydration, headaches, and crashes in energy when it’s disguised through liquids or fruit.

Water is the Best Medicine
The best way to keep your body hydrated in the summer heat is with water, plain and simple. If you feel bored with plain water and are looking for different ways to stay hydrated, get creative. Infuse your water with fresh fruits and vegetables to add flavor without the extra sugar or calories. Try freezing cubes of watermelon, pineapple, grapes and berries and use them instead of ice cubes. Frozen fruit stays cold longer than ice and will act as a tasty treat once it thaws out. Add sprigs of fresh mint or lavender and enjoy the unique flavor combinations you can create guilt free.

Pack a Bottle
Avoid temptation when you’re traveling and invest in a reusable water bottle. Get in the habit of filling it up before you leave the house and refill it at work. When you’re on the go, fruit infusions can get messy– keep things simple and add a wedge or two of fresh lemon and sliced cucumber to your water. Both lemon and cucumber hold their integrity and flavor all day long, so you can keep adding water throughout the day without having to worry about switching out fruit.

Hold the Sugar
Iced tea and coffee are great zero-calorie drinks if you make sure they are unsweetened. Most bottled iced teas and coffees are loaded with added sources of sugar, so always check the nutritional facts to make sure the sugar content is very low. If you’re on the go, many coffee shops and cafes also offer iced tea and coffee without sugar, just be sure to emphasize you don’t want any sweetener: coffee chains often add sweetener by default, so it’s worth the effort to mention you’ll pass on the sweet stuff. Add a slice of lemon or a splash of nonfat milk for flavor instead.

Add Some Sparkle
Sparkling mineral water is a great alternative to normal H20 as it is packed with natural minerals such as magnesium and calcium. The carbonation of sparkling water is an added bonus that makes this drink especially refreshing. Many brands have varieties that come infused with natural fruit essences without the sugar and calories, but be sure to check the nutrition facts to ensure sugar or artificial sweetener hasn’t been added.