Summer is here, marking a time for travel, barbecues, and lots of socializing with family and friends. For many of us, summer is also a time to go to the beach and feel comfortable in a bathing suit. It is also a time to take off our sweaters and show off our figures.
As a nutritionist, I spend a lot of time this season teaching clients how to stay healthy, lose weight, and keep it off while enjoying all the fun summer has to offer. I enjoy traveling both for pleasure and for work, so I am always fine tuning simple strategies to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on the road.
Here are several smart and simple strategies to start off your summer on a healthy track.
1. Grab a fruit.
Whether or not you are a big breakfast eater, I recommend keeping your home filled with lots of fruit which you can enjoy in the morning with a healthy protein choice such as yogurt, eggs, or nut butters. Enjoy colorful summer fruit like watermelon and also try to keep fruit on hand that you can toss in your bag and take along to avoid temptations.
2. Bring along a water bottle.
Staying hydrated is very important especially in the summer heat. People often mistake feeling hungry when they are really just dehydrated. Keep a bottle of water handy while traveling. And need a fizzy drink? Opt for sparkling water instead of soda and other sugary drinks. You'll save on calories and sugar.
3. Fiber up!
Foods high in fiber keep you feeling full and also help fight disease. Skip the white bread and opt for whole grains instead. Brown rice, whole wheat bread, and quinoa are some great choices. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables also ensures that you get ample fiber.
4. Get moving.
This is a great time of year to stay active. The days are longer making it a good time for an after work bike ride. Heading to the beach? Take a brisk walk. And take advantage of an outdoor swim. Personally, I prefer exercising outdoors whenever possible and as long as it's not to hot I try to take advantage of every opportunity.
5. Be social.
When going to a social gathering, instead of focusing on the food, enjoy the company. When you talk to others, you often end up eating more slowly and you eat less. After all, as it's hard to chew and talk.
6. Eat sitting down.
A great way to avoid nibbling is to follow this rule. Somehow, when we eat standing, we do not pay attention to what and how much we are eating. At a barbecue? Grab your plate, fill it up, and find a seat.
7. Keep a veggie platter handy.
Got the munchies? Keep veggies at arms reach -- carrots, celery, red peppers -- and you'll have something nutritious to nibble on.
8. Eat before you eat.
Going to a party and not sure what your host will serve? Eat something before you go. Grab a yogurt, snack on melon, or enjoy a turkey roll-up (turkey wrapped in lettuce.) These foods will cut the edge so you don't grab the first food you see when you arrive at your party. Avoid "saving up" and overdoing it.
9. Snack smart.
Hungry for a snack? Skip the chips and choose nuts instead. Adding a handful of nuts to your diet is a great way to boost your intake of healthy unsaturated fats which may benefit the brain as well as the skin. Nuts also help keep you feeling full so you end up eating less junk later.
10. Have an attitude of gratitude.
Be grateful for the good things in your life. While we can all finds things that could be better, things could also be a lot worse. Starting your day with a grateful heart opens us up to receive all the many miracles life has to offer.
11. Eat a colorful salad.
I suggest eating at least one salad per day. Fill up on an assortment of colorful veggies and you'll get a dose of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and fiber without too many calories.
12. Hold the dressing.
The best way to be sure that your salad or meal is not too caloric is to ask for dressing and sauces "on the side." Typical store-bought salads often contain 4 tablespoons of dressing, adding several hundred calories, to your meal.
13. Share, share, and share!
Eating out? Chances are the portion you are served is too big? Share your meal with you partner and you'll be satisfied without overdoing the calories. Share an entree along with a salad. Still hungry? Opt for an extra side of mixed vegetables.
14. Write it down.
Keep a food journal from time to time and to see just how much you are eating. When my clients do this, they are often shocked at how many extra nibbles they are eating. A taste here, a bite there -- calories add up quickly. And, very often, if you have to write it down, you don't bother eating it. A great way to save calories!
15. Relax and don't stress.
Eating should be pleasurable and should not stress you out. When you travel or go to a party, do the best you can. If you overate, don't fret, and get back on track. One meal will not blow your entire diet.
16. Buy single-servings.
As a portion-control advocate, one of the easiest ways to eat less is to buy single servings of your favorite foods and snacks. A small bag of nuts or pretzels makes it easy to keep our calorie counts down. If you nibble right out of a big bag, you are leaving it up to willpower, and if you are like most of us, you will probably end up eating too much.
17. Keep small baggies handy.
While you may not always be able to buy single-servings, portioning out a snack into a small baggie is the next best thing. Just be sure not to nibble while you are doing this.
18. Get a good night sleep.
When traveling, you are often busy socializing which is a good thing. But be sure to get enough sleep. Most people need at least 7 hours of sleep. Put your cell phone away, and relax, as tomorrow is another day.
We'd love to hear your healthy summer tips.