Eat Your Way to Summer Goddess

Booking in for a spray tan, slathering on the brown stuff with a mitt, rushing outside to hike up your work skirt in the street on a sunny day (much to the embarrassment of several people nearby) – oh and of course, bending over backwards trying to get fake tan onto that awkward spot on your back. It’s all fun and games planning for bikini season. One minute you’re thinking about forgoing summer in favour of Autumn (all those lovely Halloween costumes to hide the cellulite) and the next you’re beside your ‘Mediterranean-skinned’ Irish friend in Magaluff resembling a pink marshmallow type creature. Well never fear, now there’s something you can do that just involves a quick trip to the supermarket. We look at the top five eating tips to eat your way to a fabulous tan.

More then just rabbit food...

Tip One

Jessica Rabbit didn’t look that good by accident. One word: Beta-Carotene. Not only does it give food its orange colour but it can also help you with your tan. It has a protective effect, particularly on skin and mucous membranes, helping them fight the harmful effects of the sun. So when your body gets lots of the pigments in beta carotene, it takes on a naturally beautiful shade and also looks more youthful and supple. Eat lots of carrots and you will be sure to grace the beach in style. Lovely.
Fill up your plate with: Peppers, peaches, apricots, melons, carrots, tomatoes and aubergines.

How much: At least two out of your three meals a day.

Tip Two

Choose foods high in vitamin A. Vitamin A functions in maintaining normal skin health. If you are going for vitamin A – mangos contain more vitamin A than almost any other fruit. Add to the list such things as melons (also rehydrates you in the hot weather), dairy and fish. From dairy products you can also take calcium, while from foods as turkey, shells and liver, you can give your skin a lovely boost of zinc. Avoid fried foods, dishes with rich sauces, pickled, cured or preserved foods and strong coffee. These will only banish the rays leaving you looking like Casper the unfriendly ghost of the beach. And some of these evil foods even make it more likely that you’ll burn!

Fill up your plate with: Carrots, mangoes, oily fish, melons, cheese, eggs and milk.

How much: If you are vegetarian, one carrot gives you nearly twice your daily allowance. If you’re a meat eater beef, liver, fish and chicken are full of Vitamin A.

Tip Three

Be a water baby! Water is essential for your skin to look in top shape (the frazzled prune look not so attractive.) Our body is made up of about 60% water so it plays an important role by circulating nutritional elements, eliminating wastes and regenerating the skin. Water is also a thermo-regulator that maintains proper body temperature. When you’re in the sun you perspire and your body gradually loses water. As a result, your skin dehydrates and becomes more fragile. Therefore, you must drink large amounts of water to keep the body’s systems in balance. Have a few mouthfuls of water every twenty minutes or eat something with a high water content such as watermelon, cucumber, celery, grapes etc. Drinks containing caffeine such as coffee, tea and cola, as well as alcoholic beverages make you lose water. Stay away from these if possible.

How much: The average person needs two litres of water a day, that’s around 6 -8 glasses.

Tip Four

Free radicals may put you in mind of an ageing hippie, but they are actually organic molecules responsible for ageing and tissue damage. Antioxidants, present in many foods, are molecules that prevent free radicals from harming healthy tissue. Vitamin E is an antioxidant which has a powerful action against free radical damage – ie. the effects of the sun. It also helps the skin retain moisture. The best foods to eat for vitamin E intake are: Asparagus, avocado, egg, nuts, seeds, spinach and other green leafy vegetables and wholegrain foods. Premature wrinkles, pale skin, acne, easy bruising and slow wound healing may indicate a deficiency. Eat more Vitmain E to keep your skin spot and wrinkle free for the beach.

Fill up your plate with: Vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, peanut butter, wheatgerm, wholegrains, avocados and sweet potatoes.
Tip Five

Essential Fatty Acids come in two classes, Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-3 is our friend. It has the most effect on skin and hair condition. The body cannot make these so they have to come from our food. Ideally, they should account for 15 per cent of our calorie intake. Oily fish such as sardines, tuna and salmon are good sources of essential fatty acids, as are nuts and seeds and their oils, organic eggs, prawns and soya beans. A quick way to increase your intake is to use sesame, walnut, soya bean or flax oils in the kitchen.

Fill up your plate with: salmon, sardines, tuna, prawns, nuts and soya beans.

How much: You should aim to eat fish around two or three times a week, but be cautious: too much omega-3 fatty acid can promote a risk of stroke by thinning the blood excessively.