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Ask Anna: What Should I Be Eating This Summer?

At Lakehouse, the health and well-being of our residents  is of the utmost importance. From our intentionally selected waterfront location to our enhanced air quality and urban farm with organic herbs & veggies, wellness is integrated into every aspect of our community. 

One of our most lauded integrations is the appointment of our dedicated Wellness Concierge, Anna Stahl, MS, CHES. With more than 10 years of experience as a Certified Health Coach, Anna supports residents through on-demand needs & requests, year-round event programming and on-site updates & improvements.

Most recently, Anna has been helping residents attune their eating habits to the current season for optimal health benefits, as well as food quality and taste. Serving as both an intro to seasonal eating and a formal welcoming of the summer, Anna and the resident-led Social Activities Committee recently hosted a Summer Solstice Celebration. This gathering showcased local wines and local artists, alongside a menu of “healthy bites”—small dishes crafted with in-season ingredients. 

We chatted with Anna to learn more about the food and wellness recommendations that inspired this seasonal celebration. Here’s what she had to teach us about seasonal harvests and intuitive eating.

What does it mean to eat intuitively with the current season? 

“Eating intuitively and with the season allows you to live in harmony with yourself, your body, and the earth,” says Anna. It’s a combination of listening to what your body is craving, while also taking cues from the Earth—whatever food is thriving during this season will also help us thrive.”

And it’s not just the health benefits—in-season food just tastes better! As you start to tune into your body this way, you’ll “begin to recognize how amazing the naturally in-season produce tastes (think asparagus in the spring, watermelon in the summer, an apple in the fall…).”

But I can get my favorite produce all year round. Why does that matter?

“Our ancestors ate seasonally because they had no choice,” says Anna. In other words, if a fruit or veggie wasn’t growing in their location at that time of year, it simply wouldn’t be an option. With various climates across the US and imported produce from across the globe, our options look a little different these days. However, despite the options being available, Anna still advises to stick with what’s in season for the greatest health benefit.

“With the ability to have an abundance of offerings at every turn in the current culture of convenience, it remains wise to instinctively eat based on the time of year,” she says. “Eating foods that are out of season make you more susceptible to seasonal colds, flu, and other illnesses due to the composition and how your body temperatures react in digestion.”

What might my body need this time of year?

“Your body craves foods that balance the elements of the season,” explains Anna. For example, “in the heat of the summer, you reach for cooling foods such as fruit, raw vegetables, kombucha, and iced—smoothies or tea (herbal, mint, or hibiscus),” says Anna. “Following a spring of detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus, summer is a time for lighter fare to assist the lift of the heart’s circulation and the intestinal cleansing between meals.”

If you tune in, you’ll notice that your body is probably sending clues when it gets warm. “Cooling the body down from the inside out is what drives cravings during this hot season,” she says. “Focus on raw foods, a simple high-temp flash sauté, or steamed veggies as needed. Challenge yourself  to eat the rainbow!”

Your lifestyle changes this time of year may influence your dietary habits, needs and cravings as well. “An increased amount of outdoor activity, vacation time, pool/beach picnics, sun exposure, etc. have you reaching for water-packed, nutrient-dense options for cell hydration,” Anna notes. “By choosing foods and beverages high in water, your cells can function properly (with less stress) given the excess energy expulsion or heat during this time of year. Your body is always trying to find homeostasis which is to keep your core temperature regulated.”

To get into specifics, “foods high in electrolytes, such as bananas, kale, coconut water, and lime can be a great addition to your routine for replenishing,” she recommends. “While in the sun, it is also key to consume UV protective foods like apricots, leafy greens, carrots, and antioxidant-rich berries.”

So, what’s in season right now?

Some of Anna’s favorite seasonal summer produce includes: 

  • nectarines
  • pineapple
  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • watermelon
  • cantaloupe 
  • plums
  • coconut
  • cucumbers*
  • eggplant*
  • green beans*
  • tomatoes*
  • bell peppers*
  • summer squash*
  • zucchini*
  • corn

*Currently growing in our organic Urban Farm for residents to enjoy!

A few more thoughts on summer solstice eating…

“Intuitive eating with the season is also linked to your natural circadian rhythm,” notes Anna. In other words, what you consume during the day can help you sleep better and be better equipped to enjoy the beautiful, long summer days. “Connecting your daily patterns and lifestyle with the longest [days of the] year and the lightest season allows you to relish in the plentiful, green and floral landscape, and radiant sunsets.”

It’s really a season of celebration for the Earth, and eating intuitively is just one way to embrace it. “In North America, we celebrate the longest, brightest day of the year as the hemisphere is tilted towards the light of the sun,” she says. “Honor the light as guidance, good harvest, abundance, renewal, and birth. As an illumination to blind spots, the solstice invites you to begin anew. Receiving benefits of your efforts and as you integrate healing so you may be the light and shine outward in service to others.“