It’s HERE. Spring has finally sprung in Minneapolis, and that means it’s patio season. Restaurants across the Twin Cities are opening their decks, patios and outdoor seating to the public, and now’s the time to take advantage. But what if you’re on a specific meal plan? Or you’re watching your sugar intake? You can still hop on the patio bandwagon and enjoy the Minnesota summer—just take note of our four healthy patio eating tips.
Skip the Drinks
Happy hours, whether for work or with friends, are abundant this season, and it’s hard to turn down a fresh summer cocktail or a glass of bright rosé. But if you’re tossing back drinks multiple times a week, you might notice your skin getting angry, your digestion feeling off or your body getting tired more easily.
That’s partially because of the sugar content in alcohol, and partially because of the extra work your liver has to do to detox those drinks out of your body. If you find yourself in what feels like a days-long Happy Hour, try switching to sparkling water with lemon or lime for your second bev. Or, find a brewery that serves kombucha on tap, and drink that as a good-for-your-gut alternative.
And, if alcohol is on the menu, make sure you’re eating a bit of protein and fat with it, to help balance out the blood sugar effects.
Whether you’re shopping for groceries or you’re browsing menus to try out a new patio spot, choose establishments that focus on sourcing locally. Not only will locally sourced food help reduce your environmental footprint, but it’ll also retain more of its essential nutrients because it’s traveled less distance to make it to your plate.
After picking, fruits and veggies continue to breathe, a process called respiration. Respiration leads to loss of nutrients and flavor, as it breaks down stored organic materials, such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The longer produce has to breathe before we eat it, the less likely it is to retain nutrients. So eating at a restaurant (like Birchwood Cafe, featured above) that clearly promotes its locally sourced food is a win for you and your body.
Dress Up a Salad
This tip might seem like a boring cop-out, but getting excited about greens is a great way to make patio season work for you. Salads that feature seasonal fruit and veggies get extra points because they’re likely freshly picked, and have more nutrients that your body needs than heavy, root-vegetable-based dishes.
Choose salads that don’t layer on the dressing (or have a dressing that helps promote digestion, like simple oil and vinegar), and be sure to fully chew your raw veggies before swallowing, to assist your body in processing them. If you choose a meat or animal protein as a salad topper, sticking with grilled or broiled protein can help you feel fuller, longer—as can a filling fat like an avocado!
Open Up YOUR Patio
Instead of going out all the time, consider opening up your patio or backyard for a grill out, happy hour or bonfire. At home, you can completely choose the food options, and tailor them to your food needs. Going grain-free for a stint to see how you react? Try a new paleo recipe like an olive tapenade with crudite, or serve sweet potato chips with roasted beet hummus.
Entertaining at home doesn’t have to be hard, and it can be a lot of fun to try out new recipes while spending time with friends.
Interested in learning what protocol is best for your body? Scheduling a free, 15-minute consultation with MPLS IMC can help you decide!
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.