Ahhh summer. That time of the year when BBQs are a must, gathering over drinks and food on patios or on the dock up north.
If you’re hoping to lose weight, tone up, or simply enjoy all these gatherings but stick to good nutrition this summer to avoid putting on weight, this post is for you. Staying healthy isn’t easy when we’re surrounded by temptations, but with a little preparation, you can enjoy yourself without going overboard.
Enjoy Good Nutrition This Summer
If you’re aiming to stay healthy, the first step is to realize that total deprivation is not the way to go. When we completely cut out all the foods we love, we often end up binging, which leads to feelings of guilt and sadness.
When you want to ensure you have good nutrition, consider the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time you eat healthy foods from a variety of food groups, with lots of fresh vegetables, protein, healthy fats and fruit. And 20% of the time you get to eat what you like- whether that’s pizza, BBQ ribs, or even a beer or two.
Here are some nutritious tips to get you through the summer:
1. Stock up on Vegetables
Summer is full of so many delicious foods that are grown locally and so naturally flavourful. And even if you’re not a big vegetable eater, there are many ways you can sneak them into your meals. Vegetables are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and more, and they give you the most bang for your calorie buck. You can fill your plate with colourful veg so it is filling and looks pleasing to the eye.
Next time you feel like chips and pretzels and dip, take just a few pretzels and replace the rest with carrot and celery sticks and sliced peppers. Hummus is a great replacement for a high-fat processed dip , and it’s also full of nutrients. Not to mention guacamole is delicious as well.
Look for options to add vegetables whenever you can. Have a hamburger that you top with lots of tomato, lettuce, and sliced veg. Snack on a few nuts when you want to reach for a cookie.
And add a saute of peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onion and some dark greens next time you cook poultry, meat or fish on the BBQ.
2. Fill up on Chicken Breast
Protein is hugely important, particularly if you like to hit the gym. Not only does it help you build muscle, but it also helps you feel full throughout the day.
Lean protein is your best bet, and chicken breast is a favorite amongst many people aiming for good nutrition. If you always thought chicken breast needed to be dry and boring, your life is about to change.
Here’s what you do:
- Take four chicken breasts and slice off any extra fat
- Pour one tablespoon of olive oil into a glass baking tray. Spread it around and then add the chicken breasts
- Season chicken breasts with your favorite seasoning
- Cut enough baking paper to cover the chicken and spread olive oil on the paper so it is completely covered
- Place the baking paper (oil-side down) on top of the chicken. Tuck it in, being careful to completely cover each breast
- Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked. The baking paper acts as a “skin”, ensuring your chicken doesn’t dry out
Chicken can be used in a variety of dishes, and served with vegetables, in salads, or as a snack. For variety you can also use shrimp, scallops or other types of fish
3. Hydration Station
Often we reach for food when we think we’re hungry, but we’re really just dehydrated. You need to drink at least 80 oz of water each day or more depending on body weight or how hot it is, to stay hydrated and healthy. And if you’re working out or you’re planning to be outside in the sun, it’s a good idea to drink even more.
If you’re not a fan of the taste of water, you can dress it up. Grab some fresh fruit like berries, lemons, limes, or add herbs such as mint or basil, and add them to a jug of water. Keep the jug in the fridge and the water will soon become a much nicer flavor. Also herbal teas that you put in the fridge are also a refreshing drink
4. Meal Prep
One of the reasons why so many people find it difficult to achieve good nutrition is because they’re unprepared especially in the summer when you may be outside enjoying the weather. The best way to fix this problem is to do some preparation ahead of time so you don’t get caught short, where food is not ready and you are tired and hungry.
On a Saturday or Sunday, head to your local supermarket or farmers market. Stock up on healthy food like lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. Once you get home, spend some time chopping and cooking.
You can either do some serious meal prep and make enough food for lunch and dinner portions each week, or simply cook some food so you have enough on hand for healthy snacks.
5. Choose Smart Carbs
When most people are focusing on good nutrition, they decide that carbs are the devil and aim to cut them out completely. But without carbs, we wouldn’t have enough energy to get through the day.
Not all carbs are created equal. If trying to avoid grains then have some of the root vegetables especially if you are more active. Sure, you probably don’t need that huge serving of pasta, but there’s no reason why you can’t have a small portion of brown rice or quinoa especially on a workout day.
6. Know Your Portions
When you’re socializing at a BBQ, it can be easy to keep reaching for the chips and salsa or load up your plate with potato salad. The best way to keep this from happening is to know what a portion or serving of each food looks like so your eyes don’t play any tricks on you.
If having a serving of pasta, potato salad, or beans keep it to approximately half to one cup, which is the size of your clenched fist. Your meat should be no bigger than the size of your phone. And if you’re adding dressing, the size of your thumb is about one tablespoon.
7. Enjoy Yourself
Yes, you can eat your favorite foods. If you’re dying for a cheeseburger and you’re going to a BBQ later, you may want to just have a light salad for lunch. Make allowances through the day so you can eat that burger guilt-free.
Or maybe you’re a dessert person, and you have a friend who makes the best cheesecake you’ve ever eaten. In that case, say no to the potato salad but treat yourself to a small slice of cheesecake later. The point is make a plan so you can enjoy some recreational eating and thoroughly enjoy it knowing it is not coming at the expense of your goals, whether that is to stick to a weight loss plan or to maintain your weight.
Are you trying to achieve good nutrition this summer? Do you feel like you don’t even know where to start? Get in touch to learn how we can help you achieve your goals, so you can feel healthy and look great.