Monday, May 1, 2006

Diet Tips to Look Your Summertime Best

Ready or not, it’s time to shed those layers of clothing. Play smart and prep ahead of time for upcoming events so you look and feel your ‘summer best.’

  • Break a Sweat – There’s no better time to intensify your exercise routine. Diet, exercise and adequate sleep are the integral pieces to the slim down/tone up puzzle. Warm weather is a great motivation to get moving and mix it up. Give your body and metabolism a nice jumpstart, try incorporating various workouts into your weekly schedule -- a scenic run through Central Park or a cycling class, some light to moderate strength training for toning, maybe a yoga or pilates class or two and you’re set! Choose a type of exercise you truly enjoy and success is a sure thing.
  • Fill Up on Fresh Fruits & Vegetables – Spring and summer bring endless delicious fresh fruits and vegetables to your table. Hit the farmers’ market or your local grocery store and stock up on seasonal produce. Color your plate with greens, asparagus, artichokes, red peppers, berries, peaches, plums, melon, snap peas, tomatoes, basil, summer squash and an array of other fresh picks. Keep cut veggies in your fridge directly at eye level when you open the door – they’re great for a quick munch or to pair with a lite yogurt dip or ¼ cup of hummus for a healthy snack. Aim for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day! (1 serving of raw vegetables = 1 cup • 1 serving of cooked vegetables = ½ cup • 1 serving of fruit = 1 piece or 1 cup fruit salad/berries)
  • Water…and More Water! – Staying hydrated in the heat is a key component to replenishing your body’s needs and keeping a slim, fit figure by promoting healthy metabolism and digestion. We often misread signs of ‘hunger’ when in actuality, we’re thirsty! Quench your thirst before you get dehydrated by keeping a bottle of water with you at all times. Our bodies adapt to warm weather by perspiring more efficiently, meaning we need pay that much more attention on maintaining hydration levels. Guzzle 2 or 3 – 24oz sport bottles or 2 liters a day and that unwanted ‘beach bloat’ will be history in no time! Tired of plain ol’ water? Spruce it up with a slice or two of lemon or lime or try unsweetened iced herbal or green tea. (If you’re on the go, try Starbuck’s Passion or Green Iced Teas with a little Lemonade for a fun treat – just ask for it unsweetened to keep the calories and sugar to a minimum!)
  • Beat the Bloat – Feeling a bit bloated is never welcomed, particularly when we’re dawning summer clothing and beachwear. A few quick tips to slenderize your stomach – skip things that increase your consumption of extra air such as carbonated drinks (diet sodas, seltzers etc), gum, and drinking through a straw. Limit your consumption of salty, sodium-rich foods such as canned soups and vegetables, frozen dinners, cold cuts, processed snacks – remember the daily recommended intake of sodium is 1,500 milligrams with a maximum upper limit of 2,300 milligrams. Try a quick trick and check food labels to ensure you’re staying below your sodium goal – just one cup of canned soup can have upwards of 800-900 milligrams of sodium! Also, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to decrease sodium and water retention and to keep your digestion going strong! Finally, if you’ve got a sensitive stomach, watch out for artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame etc) in beverages, gum and foods – they may act as diuretics and can cause a bloating effect.
    Do reach for citrus as well as fruits and vegetables with high water content like watermelon and cucumber which help encourage water loss, again helping to bring down bloating.
  • Think Lite & Turn on the Grill – Summer is the perfect time to lighten up at meal and snack times. Winter’s hearty comfort foods are a thing of the past. Indulge yourself in healthy, satisfying dishes packed with vitamins, minerals and flavor that happen to be on the lighter side. Grilling is an incredibly healthy, easy cooking method that allows you to whittle down the fat and boost aroma and flavor. Get creative and grill up your favorites -- chicken breasts, fish, seafood, vegetables, or even some fresh pineapple or peach slices for a new, lite twist on dessert! A little olive oil, fresh lemon or citrus, herbs and spices are excellent ways to enhance grilled foods and bring dishes to life healthfully!
  • Homerun Snacks at Baseball Games – Summertime is synonymous with an exciting baseball game. If you’re worried about what to eat when you head into that extra inning, think again! Surprisingly, you can find some great choices at the ballpark. For a nutritious, satisfying snack, look to the guy selling roasted peanuts. Share the bag with others, though peanuts are loaded with healthy fat, they are high in calories. Aim for a serving, about 28 peanuts (165 calories). If you’re not a nut lover, many stadium concession stands now carry veggie dogs and veggie burgers, an excellent choice without the saturated fat of a regular burger. If nothing else, come prepared…pack a turkey sandwich on whole wheat or some fresh fruit or veggies to snack on. Moderate your beer consumption, enticing as they are. Sip on one or two lite beers and keep water by your side over the course of the big game.
  • On Top of Your Diet & Your Golf Game – Play a round of 18 holes can certainly stir up a hearty appetite. Pack some healthy snacks like fresh cut fruits and vegetables or high fiber crackers and low-fat cheese to bring in the golf cart. Read your hunger cues to keep your metabolism, energy levels, and your golf swing going strong. Allowing yourself to go too long, over 4-5 hours, without any food can set you up for over doing it at your next meal.
  • Handling Happy Hour – Who doesn’t love finishing out a long workday with a cocktail or two, especially when the weather’s warm. But when happy hour invites start piling up, so can the alcohol calories. Drink in moderation, one or two lite beer, glasses of wine or liquor drinks. Switch to club soda or seltzer as a no-calorie mixer instead of sugary tonic water, soda and cranberry juice. Stay hydrated by sipping on a glass of water in between drinks. You can always surpass alcohol altogether and hold onto a glass of refreshing club soda and lime. Let yourself get engrossed in a great conversation with a colleague or friend, remember you’re there to socialize and enjoy the company of others, not just the drinks.
  • Stay Focused on Your Goal -- Our most important tip on this list, stay motivated and focused on your ultimate goal! Reward your hard work every now and again, treat yourself to something just for you that’s not food related…a massage, a manicure, a new CD – you pick! Eat healthfully, stay active and restore energy levels with sound sleep and an incredible summer is around the corner.

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