Hooray for summer! Let’s keep (or begin) healthy eating habits all season long with this helpful FAB post from Elisa Zied.
With Summer here at last, it’s likely your eating habits will take a turn—sometimes for the worse. Do you tend to drink frozen margaritas or other spirits like they’re going out of style? Eat one too many burgers, hot dogs, or frozen treats (I personally find Mr. Softy particularly appealing, especially when it’s 90 degrees outside)? Do you hop from party to party and find the countless temptations overwhelm you? Whatever your challenge, don’t sweat it! Here are five tips to help you eat smart, beat the heat, and maintain a healthy weight this Summer.
1) Have a game plan
Anticipate your eating, sleeping, and fitness schedule ahead of time. The more you know your plans ahead of time, the more in charge you’ll feel (and be) when it comes to making food and fitness decisions. If it helps you, keep track of what you eat and how you move, especially when you’re away or on vacation—that accountability can really be an eye opener and help you stay on a healthy track and routine.
2) Eat ‘round the clock
I’m not suggesting that you to graze constantly, but it does help your hunger and blood sugar stay in check to eat even a little something every 3 or 4 hours. Eating regularly can keep you energized whether you’re working at your desk, climbing a mountain, or taking a walk or bike ride. Here are a few mini-meals that contain protein and fiber to keep you satisfied (especially handy when you’re on the go or on the road):
- whole wheat crackers or whole wheat bread with natural peanut butter (or another nut butter) and sliced banana
- low fat yogurt with some fresh blueberries, strawberries or raspberries
- string cheese or a few small cheddar cubes or other hard cheese paired with whole grain crackers and/or a small handful of cashews, peanuts, almonds, walnuts or other nut of choice
3) Have produce each time you eat
Fruits and vegetables not only provide fiber, vitamins A and C and other key nutrients to keep you healthy (depending on the produce you pick), but they’re also high in water content. Having at least ½ cup of either at each meal or eating occasion—especially before any other food you choose—can hydrate you and fill you up. And having it first can potentially help you curb your portion of (and consume fewer calories from) higher calorie, less nutritious fare. Having a fruit or vegetable kebob, grilling them, or grabbing grapes, bananas, or other berries from the freezer can make it even more fun and tasty to meet your fruit and vegetable quota.
4) Follow the rule of one
Whether you’re at a restaurant, a picnic, a wedding or other event, or even just at home, try to make your main meals consist of an amount of food that would fit on one plate—and one plate only. A good rule of thumb is to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, one quarter with whole grains or starchy vegetables, and one quarter with lean protein like fish, skinless white meat chicken or other lean poultry, or lean beef. Low fat dairy (milk or yogurt) or cheese can be worked into the meal as well (eg a glass of non fat milk on the side, some melted mozzarella on a chicken breast topped with tomato sauce, or shredded cheddar on a baked potato). When you’re done eating, brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash—or simply pop in a strong sugarless mint to signal the end of eating.
A delicious recipe for a white grape splash is shown above—a great alternative to an alcoholic beverage.
5) Hydrate the healthy way
In warm weather, many reach for caloric beverages to quench their thirst and stay cool. While non fat or low fat milk and 100 percent fruit juice can hydrate and certainly provide some key nutrients (milk is rich in calcium, vitamin D, potassium and other important vitamins and minerals, and 100 percent fruit juice often provides vitamin C, folate, and other nutrients depending on the type you choose), it’s better to you to get most of your hydration from plain or sparkling water (no worries if you add a dash of 100 percent fruit juice for extra zing). Or you can add some You can also add fresh berries, or squirt and add lime, lemon, orange or grapefruit wedges to add flavor to your water. Unsweetened iced tea or coffee can also help you hydrate, but at high levels may have the opposite effect. Alcoholic beverages can also be dehydrating. If you absolutely, positively insist on a cocktail or glass of wine or beer, just stick to one (eg 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, 5 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer).
Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitan and founder/president of Zied Health Communications, LLC in New York, New York. You can learn more and sign up for her free weekly e-newsletter at www.elisazied.com.